01 September 2016
2 minutes

De Heus has developed a well-balanced plan, based on years of experience and expertise. The De Heus Kaliber ® Calf Rearing Plan is a holistic rearing plan for dairy heifers. It is designed to rear calves with ‘Kaliber’ in a healthy and economical way. ‘Kaliber’ refers to the animal’s proportions in terms of height, weight and size. This means that the young animal has good skeletal development without getting fat.

To achieve a heifer with 'kaliber' De Heus distinguishes four different growth phases:

Start Phase

The Start Phase for calves are from 0 - 5 months and meant to give the calf a solid basis for optimal future development with the goal of achieving optimal and safe growth during this infant stage.

Youth Phase

The Youth Phase spanning from 5 - 8 months with an objective of realizing maximum growth as growth in this phase is very efficient when the right ration is provided.

Puberty Phase

The third phase set out by the Kaliber plan is the Puberty Phase from 8 - 14 months and is crucial as the heifer’s skeleton needs to develop in length and height, without the deposition of fat, making correct nutrition a necessity.

Gestation Phase

Lastly the Kaliber plan is finished off by the Gestation Phase for heifers from 14 - 24 months of age. This is a group often neglected yet they are very important as it is the phase where Heifers are inseminated and is a pregnant animal for a large portion of the phase.

The development objective is continued growth with minimal fat deposition.

Each phase has its own specific requirements and goals. Every phase needs both good management and nutrition to realize maximum Kaliber effect.

What is the added benefit of the use of the Kaliber concept in your calf rearing program?

De Heus did extensive research on calf rearing and the results proved conclusively that using the Kaliber® Calf Rearing Plan had significant benefits for both cow and farmer. Heifers reared with Kaliber® were compared to Heifers not reared with Kaliber over the 1st three lactations of their adult lives with specific reference to production. Heifers reared with Kaliber on average produced 406 kg more milk in their first lactation. When followed into their second lactation again these animals showed an increase in production of 367 kg more milk over non-Kaliber cows. In their 3rd lactation cows that were raised using Kaliber concepts still produced 251 kg more milk than their non-Kaliber counterparts. This totalled an average of 1 024 kg more milk from three lactations.

When taken into consideration that the “non-Kaliber” system used in this trail was an above average rearing system, results could be more favourable for many farmers. Apart from potential added benefit in production, using the Kaliber® Calf Rearing Plan can decrease rearing costs significantly due to calving at 24 months as opposed to 30 months or even longer.