Brad Heins, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, was quoted in a Dairy Herd Management article about how farmers can cut down on risks by employing the step-down approach to weaning.
The stage between nursing and weaning is the most expensive time in a calf’s life, so farmers usually try to switch from milk replacements to solid food as soon as possible. If this change isn’t managed properly, it could lead to sickness, thus increasing costs.
“At birth, the abomasum represents the largest compartment of the ruminant forestomach and is vital for the digestion of a milk-based diet,” Heins said. “Through the preweaning phase, the rumen, reticulum and omasum all gradually develop and become integrated into the digestive process. Through appropriate nutrition and utilization of high-quality, texturized calf starter, the rumen papillae can be stimulated to develop and grow which will allow for digestion of lower-quality starters and forages postweaning.”