Expert Insight into Calving in Autumn 2021

As many dairy farms come into their busiest time of the year, the relentless but valuable focus on calving and calf rearing routines needs to be maintained to ensure the productivity and success of the next generation of milkers. However, the reality of their not being enough hours in the day or enough people to muck in is all too common.

When it comes to calf health and vigour and wasting less time and money on tending to poorly calves, colostrum really is “liquid gold”. It’s the most important thing to spend time on getting right, and it’s the most important thing to get the timing right on!

The type of placenta in which a calf is grown (namely a syndesmochorialplacenta), means that calves are born with little to no immunity. For sufficient passive transfer of immunity from mother to calf, calves must receive colostrum to the amount of 10 percent bodyweight ideally within the first 2 hours of life. Furthermore, with colostrum quality as important as colostrum quantity, calves must also receive 200g IgG in their first feed. A reading of 22 percent on a brix refractometer equates to 50g IgG/L, so feeding 4L of this colostrum will provide the required 200g IgG.

Colostrum consumption also programmes the young calf for life, and many studies support the idea of improved growth rates, greater development, and more milk production from calves fed higher volumes. Feeding a high quality, digestible milk replacer after colostrum will help to support these growth rates, of at least 0.85kg/d, which are required to reach the recommended age of first calving of 22-24 months.

Age of first calving is of huge importance to farmers, and an increase in milk production from heifers is of economic gain. Increases in fertility and longevity are also correlated with elevated planes of nutrition, so investments must be made in the pre-weaning period to produce strong, profitable heifers.

Julia Wadeson

Julia Wadeson, Calf & Youngstock Specialist
1st September 2021


Working with your unique situation and goals

Carr’s Billington provides a comprehensive range of feed and nutrition products and services to help our dairy farming customers improve the digestive performance of their dairy cows and heifers, driving margin from feed and whilst minimising environmental impact.







Here’s how we can help your dairy cows perform better


The 6-8 weeks leading up to calving is a vital time for both cow and calf. This time is essential for recovery from the last lactation, and essential to prepare for the next. A solid dry cow system looks at both environmental and nutritional management.

Transform dry cow nuts contain 24% protein protein, LiFT liver function technology and Safmannan to boost natural defences and increase colostrum IgG levels.

VITAMIX Dry Cow IF is a specially formulated, high specification mineral for dry cows and heifers preparing for calving, helping to reduce the risk of milk fever and metabolic diseases


Cows typically do not eat and drink in the period directly before and during calving. Couple this with the fact that they lose large amounts of water, electrolytes, and blood calcium during birth, makes for a perfect storm for post-natal issues.

CaliBol is a fast releasing bolus to be aministered around calving time, containing a combination of calcium chloride, calcium propionate and magnesium, which together effectively reduces the risk of milk fever.

Farm-O-San Reviva is a highly palatable post calving drink, with large amounts of energy and calcium desgined to quickly rehydrate and replenish mineral loss and increase blood calcium levels.


Nutrient intake in the first, hours, days and weeks of a calf’s life is nothing but essential.Getting this right or wrong is proven to significantly impact on immune strength, average daily gain (ADG), and development of the mammary gland. Research also shows that calves can never make up the shortfall in growth rates and organ development at this time, so there is no going back. Feed conversion efficiency is also much higher in the first weeks of life than at any other point in the growth cycle.

Vitality Colostrum is Carr’s Billingtons complementary colostrum feeding stuff designed specifically to replace or enhance maternal colostrum when in short supply or quality is poor.

Vitality Milk Replacer is Carr’s Billingtons Energized Calf Milk specially formulated with Safmannan® to bind to harmful gut pathogens and support immunity, and EarlyBite® to motivate calves to eat solid feed earlier.

Our calf consultancy offering

Our range of advisory services and tools are designed to provide our customers with Vital Insight into Growth, Optimization and Reproduction (VIGOR):

Dry cow nutrition

Feed curves and planning

Youngstock management review

Colostrum protocols

Calf housing assessment


Unlock the genetic potential of your next generation with the help and support of our specialist advisers.

Call our order line now 01228 518860

(Lines open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm)

Contact us
Contact us


Contact Us
To speak to your specialist advisor


store finder
store finder


Visit Us
Find you local store


sign up
sign up


Keep hearing from us
Sign up for our latest news and insights