Gradual weaning to allow for adequate calf rumen development


After successful weaning, it is important to keep supporting dairy calf rumen development while maintaining growth.

Other rearing dairy calves topics

Around calving
0-2 DAYS
3-49 DAYS
8-10 WEEKS
5 months until breeding

By the time the calf is 6 months old, the rumen size should have increased about 5 fold compared to the size at weaning. Therefore, roughage in the form of straw or good quality hay is essential for good rumen development during the first month after weaning.

Focus on rumen development is crucial, but make sure the calf keeps growing.

Good rumen development is crucial, but the calf should also keep growing while it’s rumen develops. To maximise post-weaning growth, the calf should therefore be fed enough energy. This can be achieved by feeding compound feed ad libitum in combination with either hay or straw or in combination with a dry TMR. Wet TMR based on silage should be avoided during this phase as it has a high moisture content. Rumen capacity may still be a limiting factor at this age, so feeds with a high moisture content and thus a high volume should be avoided.

Don't move calves at the same time the ration changes

Many calves change from housing on straw to housing on slatted floors. This move to a new housing system should not be made at the same time the ration changes. Don’t change grouping either at the time of weaning or at the time calves are moved to a new housing system. Keep the groups small, recently weaned dairy calves need to learn how to compete with one another for through space. To decrease competition for feed, weaned dairy heifers should be housed in groups of 6 heifers or less. This will result in better feed intake.

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