New product proven to significantly increase calf growth rates and improve health

With a staggering 15% of dairy heifers born alive failing to make it through to rearing, producers are being reminded that small changes to infant diets can have a huge impact on not only survival rates but also overall health.

The addition of Downland’s Fresh Start Improve into milk diets, has been trialled successfully on-farm and has been proven to reduce scours and improve growth rates.

Improve 2kg

“We know that it’s essential for a calf to develop and maintain a healthy and strong gut wall, to maximise daily weight gain and reduce any growth checks at weaning.

“Fresh Start Improve is a unique combination of natural ingredients specially formulated to maximise calf growth, immune response and gut health,” says Mark Lowden, chief executive at Downland. “Added to either powdered or whole milk, the product fed at 7g/calf/day, not only binds harmful bacteria in the gut reducing the risk of scour, but also provides antioxidants which have been proven to increase antibody levels and reduce the number of days the calf is sick.

“Additionally, it supplies functional proteins directly to the gut wall and also contains a unique source of DHA omega-3 essential for calf development.”

Hefin Davies, who milks 300 Holsteins in Pembrokeshire, and calves all year round, has been feeding Downland’s Fresh Start Improve and has seen a significant improvement in calf health. “We started feeding the product last autumn and have seen a reduction in scour cases and improved growth rates. It’s hard to quantify but overall the calves are just healthier.

This is mirrored in a trial that took place on Tony Blamire’s farm in Cumbria. “Within five weeks of the product going in the milk, at 7g/day/head, scour treatments dropped from two a week to zero,” says Tony Blamire. “Interestingly, when the product was taken out, two calves were treated for scours within that week.”

Reducing the incidence of scours can make a huge difference to farm profitability, explains Mark. “Scours are reported as one of the biggest causes of on-farm calf mortality and even if the animal survives, treatment is costly and there are long term production losses.

“Costing just 15p/calf/day, producers will see return on investment through either increased growth rates or a reduction in incidence of scour. Additionally, a reduction in challenges which lead to gut problems means the calf has an improved immune response.

Mark also believes that the product provides a viable means of reducing antibiotic reliance. “Pressure is mounting on the farming industry to reduce antibiotic use and producers must start to look at alternative measures to maintain health.  The trial results show that Fresh Start Improve is an effective option that can reduce reliance on medication by optimising immune response and gut health.

Fresh Start Improve is available in 2kg or 5kg packs, for more information click here.

20th June 2016