Optimised growth in the first 70 days of a calf’s life

LifeStart Pillars

Colostrum Management
Weaning Strategies
Calf to heifer

LifeStart preweaning (d2-d70)

The key scientific principle behind the LifeStart program and the observed increase in animal production is known as metabolic programming. This is an entirely natural phenomenon that has been proven to exist in all kinds of mammals, including human beings. The effect is best described as an improvement of the whole life health and performance of individuals beyond what would previously have been considered their full potential. The directly observed cause of this effect is optimised growth in the first 70 days of life, the preweaning phase. As a result, LifeStart sets life performance.


Boost early growth with the LifeStart calf feeding schedule

LifeStart feeding schedules boost early calf growth. Although the precise methods vary, a number of recent studies have demonstrated the benefits of accelerated early calf growth by intensive liquid feeding during the first eight weeks of life.

5 Critical control points

With the LifeStart calf feeding program, it’s possible to meet the following rearing objectives:


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Trouw Nutrition is dedicated to optimize calf rearing principles by developing science based solutions that will enable dairy farmers to produce in a more sustainable way. Together with our global network of scientific institutes, we share solutions to deal with common challenges of the dairy industry.

In 2014 Trouw Nutrition initiated the Kempenshof LifeStart trial in which calves are monitored from birth until the end of their productive life. This trial still continues today.

Our team will share their latest findings and results as well as other important information related to calf rearing from around the world.




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LifeStart studies on preweaning

Calves included in the Kempenshof trial had an improved growth as a result of a LifeStart feeding schedule

Elevated planes of pre-weaning nutrition increase ADG, preparing calves for a more productive life

Dietary strategies for the improvement of dairy calf health

Increased levels of pre-weaning nutrition and supplementation with bioactive compounds can improve pre-and post-weaning health of dairy calves.

Automated feeding saves costs, increases growth and improves health and welfare

Automated feeding saves costs, increases growth and future milk production and improves health and welfare.

Feed ingredient preferences could hold the key to better-mixed starter rations

Preference for different feed ingredients can result in marked differences in starter feed intake.

The positive impact of intensified pre-weaning calf feeding programs

Intensive feeding schedules result in less stress, better growth, earlier insemination and higher milk production, but require step-down weaning strategies.

The detrimental effects of social isolation

Group housing of calves has many positive effects on behaviour and performance. Potential disadvantages can be managed.

Important factors when switching to modern calf and heifer facilities.

Calves should be group housed as early as possible in facilities aimed at reducing stress. Grouping strategies should not be based on age only.

Respiratory disease has a negative impact on weight gain of dairy calves

Bovine respiratory disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in young dairy calves and has a negative effect on average daily gain.

Calves fed ad libitum will regulate their feed intake towards a balanced diet

Calves fed ad libitum balance their diets towards a correct ratio between protein and energy and wean themselves at 6 months of age. This information can help to avoid a weaning dip.

Effect of milk allowance

Ad libitum feeding of milk results in a higher milk intake, better growth and reduces stress before and at weaning.

LifeStart Themes

Metabolic Programming
Glucose metabolism
Role of fat in calf nutrition
Lactobalance, hydration, and osmoregulation
Most LifeStart science articles on this site relate to a particular stage of the life of a calf or dairy cow. However, some general themes are not related to a particular stage of life. For a full understanding of LifeStart science, please review the information related to the 4 themes above: