Rearing of calves in the modern dairy industry presents the farmer-producer of milk a series of problems and obstacles that must be solved in the best possible way. Unfortunately, the solution of these problems is not always reached, due to a multitude and very diverse factors and the solutions are not always applicable by breeders because they did not have the means or because their implementation is not feasible from an economic point of view.
It is precisely these limitations that have been forcing the researchers, especially in the last decade, to reconsider the methods of upbringing, specifically handling and feeding. One of these methods is the rearing of calves in a group with various objectives, the main one being the labor savings and the second decrease the stress of the maternal absence during infancy and the “social impact” at weaning. To face this obstacles of how to give to eat to so many yearing calves in a group have developed automated feeding systems and re-examined other factors such as the space required by yearing calves, the surface where must be these groups of yearing calves, the corrals ventilation and many other operational details, the majority of the specific to each place, be it a stable or a center of breeding.
In practice, we have seen how the adoption of these systems of aging in groups is not a process as straightforward as might be thought and before that, the producer and its employees achieve efficiency in the handling of the new system usually have to face a series of challenges that they never imagined. In many operations have not yet been completed to resolve these problems or just give up and return to the traditional systems of rearing.
But neither the producers and nursery centers where follow the “traditional” systems of rearing are exempt from the problems posed by the modern breeding calves. The increase in the size of the herds, the greatest demand in development that is required to convert to a yearing calve in a cow high producer and management based on statistics and objectives lead on many occasions to more problems, and more complex, which was designed to resolve. This occurs because when handling by statistics and objectives in many occasions will not solve the problems, but simply are masked. This can occur in the case of the statistics or, paradoxically, to manage by objectives is lost the objectivity. The case more palpable this happens with the rearing of calves in booths of weather. In the great stables and modern breeding centers, the booths are so numerous – having several hundred or thousands of them in a single operation – that it is impossible to even “peek” to each to ensure that each animal – each individual – is in good condition. The producer will have to depend entirely on the reports of its employees.
Then, in operations of all kinds, is aging in groups or traditional management, we have the problem of management by objectives and the statistical control. What is more important for the producer, that calves do not die, or they become cows that produce milk to its full genetic potential? The statistics of a breeding we can speak of the mortality, or even – in rare cases – of morbidity. But that does not tell us how much milk will give these calves when they arrive to become a cow.
There is when the management by objectives loses objectivity.
Facing the challenges of the modern breeding calves
The dairy cow of the twenty-first century faces challenges that no other generation of cattle had confronted in the past – since the first person ordeñó to the first cow in the dawn of civilization.
These challenges are of various types: genetic health, management and environmental.
The modern dairy cow has a genotype much more evolved than previous generations. The greater capacity of milk production imposes metabolic needs and development of the body and visceral that did not have to face their ancestors that produced from ten to forty liters of milk less than them. Progress in the genetic knowledge in the genomics is discovering was the veil of many mysteries that they saw no explanation, such as the proportion weight of the viscera in relation to body size and the production of milk. A clear example of this is the proportion of breast tissue functional developed during lactation.
The modern dairy cow facing health problems are much more difficult to resolve because of the increasing demands of optimal milk quality and the prohibition increasingly strict in the use of antibiotics for the treatment of diseases in animals. Although there has been enormous progress in the control of contagious diseases and vaccination systems, in many cases the solution is very complex and the most that can aspire to the average producer is the control of the infectious problems, for example, to ensure that their replacements arrive free of diseases to the first lactation.
Modern management systems of livestock in confinement make great demands on the cows. For example, milking three times a day. While these systems allow to optimize production, impose the need to maximize the time of cows and their power. The greater productivity also makes it essential to take replacement animals with optimal health and development to ensure its longevity and the return of the money invested in their upbringing.
Finally, the producer facing environmental problems. Topping the list, since then, we have the climate change, followed by an increase of the urban sprawl around the large dairy farms that are making it increasingly difficult to rely on health conditions of isolation, purity of water and inputs that require large modern dairy farms.
But what happens with the calves?
Since exactly the same as with the cows. It should be recalled that the calves of today will be our cows of tomorrow.
Although from the genetic point of view, the yearing calve modern is not so radically different to their ancestors, epigenetic factors are, today more than ever, determinants in that the yearing calves develop properly and reaches its maximum potential of production to reach the herd of milking. For this the heifer must have excellent health, especially in its stage of lactation, that is when the development of the milk ducts of the mammary gland that will lead the milk of the future production.
In numerous studies, it has been found that a good immune system is essential for that are epigenetically activated genes that determine the development of the mammary gland.
From the point of view of health, Becerra modern faces challenge increasingly large. Even when a yearing calf receives an adequate amount of colostrum to correct time after birth (5 grams of IgG per kilogram of weight within the first hour of life). Their ability to deal with the pathogens in the environment will also depend on the number of germs that has in its environment (see figure)
Celtic Mox retrieves the balance between challenge and immunity of the suckling dairy calves in breastfeeding
For example, while the development of automated feeding systems for calves in groups allows you to save labor and give them more to eat, also facilitates the transmission of pathogens by mouth.
Anyway, whatever system of upbringing, traditional or in a group, generally, the greater the amount of yearing calves in a barn or center of breeding, the greater the burden of pathogens in the environment and best will have to be the status of immunity from the yearing calf.
The handling of large groups of yearing calves, again, no matter how a breeding system, in groups or traditional, results in a very intense stress conditions for the yearing calves. In the upbringing in groups, the social hierarchy can be daunting for the yearing calves subordinates, preventing at the same time to know how that is going to develop each one of them or identify individual problems of development. In the traditional breeding, the deprivation of the maternal presence causes chronic stress, and if is not monitored individually to each Becerra, it is impossible to verify their state of health.
The modern management of the calves in upbringing, therefore, forced to ensure that their immune systems functioning optimally.
Finally, climate change is forcing to modify the way in which we provide to the calves relief to stress either by heat or cold.
Apart from appropriate facilities and supply more in line with the ambient temperature, it has been verified that the yearing calve requires a good immune system to develop adequately in adverse environmental conditions.
Celtic® Mox indispensable
Since its foundation in the year 2000, Celtic Holland has been concerned to develop and maintain a line of products that help the producer to meet the challenges facing the dairy industry of the twenty-first century.
A clear example of this is Celtic® Mox, our specific probiotic blends to strengthen the immunity of calves.
The Technical Department of Celtic Holland has verified that the supplementation with Celtic® Mox is an extremely valuable tool to help the milk yar to overcome the obstacles, genetic, health, power, and environmental management, it faces.
After numerous field trials performed in large dairy farms of Mexico, in the main milk basins, such as the lagoon and Delicias Chihuahua, Celtic® Mox has verified – and continues checking – which is an essential product for the modern breeding calves.
Calves that were supplemented with Celtic® Mox throughout the lactation, achieved greater weight, length, height and width of the hip in comparison with calves unsupplemented and in several generations of cows in production we have followed by checking that the longevity and quantity of milk produced is much higher in cows that were supplemented with Celtic® Mox during its aging preweaning.
Celtic® Mox retrieves the balance between challenge and immunity in the yearing calve dairy in breastfeeding.