The purpose of fattening calves is to produce red meat. Considering that the average daily weight gain of a fattened calf is about 1000 to 1800 grams, the protein percentage of its meat is 21% (sheep is 20%) and its fat is less than that of sheep meat, so fattening of calves is of particular importance in providing the protein needed by the society.
Food and nutrition is the most important issue in fattening. Because when the animal has the maximum production, its needs in terms of energy, protein and other nutrients are provided. It can be said that in beef cattle farming, more than 60% of current expenses are related to feed and 25% of it is for buying lean calves. Therefore, the more the calves have better nutrition (not more expensive) and are healthier, the fattening profession will be more profitable.
Calf fattening can be started by buying 3 to 6 months old lean calves weighing 100 to 150 kg.
The whole period of fattening can last from 6 to 9 months depending on the farmer’s policy and economic conditions (such as the price of meat, feed, lean calves). The suitable slaughter weight of fattening calves of pure breeds such as Holstein is between 350 and 400 kg at the age of 12 months. Unfortunately, in Iran, the age and slaughter weight are much higher than this, and in addition to reducing the quality of meat, millions of kilograms of feed are turned into disposable fat.
The advantage of 6-month fattening is that the farmer can have two fattening periods in the cattle farm every year. Also, due to the fact that the calves are sent to the slaughterhouse at a younger age, their carcasses have less fat, more protein and digestibility, and overall better meat quality.
-6month fattening has a better (lower) feed conversion ratio and is more profitable if the lean calf is cheap. But in a situation where the price of lean calves is high, fattening takes up to 9 months or even longer.
The types of fattened calves in Iran include: 1- Native calves (with an average of 600 grams of daily weight gain) 2- Crossbred calves (700 to 1300 grams of daily weight gain) 3- Purebred calves (about 1000 to 1800 grams of weight gain Daily).
Holstein calf fattening
– Purebred calves (such as Holstein) have a faster weight gain rate. In general, males have a faster growth rate in all races.
– Calves with a high growth rate have short and wide necks, large and wide bones, and short necks.
– When buying a fattened calf, you should make sure that it is healthy. Some of the common diseases in this period are infection and hernia of the umbilical cord (swelling of the umbilical cord), thrush, breast ulcer, internal and external parasites, as well as foreign bodies that should be considered.
– The most successful breeders are those who have a permanent contract with purebred industrial cattle farms to buy male calves.
Transferring fattened calves to cattle ranch: One of the common problems in fattening is that the rancher buys fresh and healthy calves, but after entering the new cattle ranch, these calves gradually become depressed and lethargic and suffer from diseases such as fever. Thrush and fever are transported (and sometimes lost). To avoid this damage, note that if the transfer route takes more than 8 to 12 hours:
– Calves should not be fed a few hours before transfer.
– If foot and mouth diseases and calf deaths are high in the area, antibiotics + multivitamins should be used for the calves at the beginning, before the transfer of the calf.
– On long and hot journeys, calves should be given warm water.
– After the calves enter the cowshed, only water and multivitamins should be provided to the calves for 2 hours.
Then, only dry hay should be poured into the calf’s manger. From the second day onwards, mix feed (TMR) should be given to the calves.
– For prevention (in consultation with the veterinarian), a broad-spectrum and long-acting antibiotic must be used.
– It is better to use fully mixed ration during the entire fattening period.
– The use of straw is not economical due to its low digestibility and price, and it should be used in small amounts.
– Do not use dry bread to feed calves.
Breeding of fattening calves is divided into three phases: first trimester, second trimester, and third trimester.
The first trimester of the fattening period (3 to 6 months old)
During this period, bones and non-muscular organs such as digestive organs of calves grow. Therefore, calves need foods that have a lot of protein. The use of high-quality hay and cottonseed meal during this period is very useful for the growth of calves.
Also, make sure to use bone powder, DCP, calcium carbonate or lime powder and calcium-rich feeds so that the calves have proper bone growth and grow tall. The daily weight gain of purebred breeds in this period is about 700 to 1100 grams with a conversion factor of about 3% of body weight, with less cost and faster speed.
Therefore, fattening young animals is economically more efficient. In this period, feed equivalent to 60% concentrate and 40% high-quality alfalfa fodder should be given to calves. At the end of this period, corn silage is gradually introduced into the feed and replaces part of the consumed hay.
The second trimester (6 to 9 months old)
In this period, despite the fact that the calves have completed their initial growth, bone growth is still continuing. Therefore, they need less protein and more energy for growth. Therefore, in order to fatten the calves, high-energy feeds (cereals and corn silage) and cheaper fodder should be used. The cost of overweight in this period is more than the previous period, but it is very economical. At this time, 70% of animal feed can be composed of animal concentrate that contains high-energy substances.
– The average weight gain in this period is about 1000 grams and the conversion factor is about 7.
– To reduce the price of feed, more corn silage and concentrate containing grains with 12% protein should be used. If the farmer wants to eat straw, he must crush and enrich it and gradually add it to the ration.
The third trimester of fattening (9 to 12 months old)
Considering that in this period the maximum growth is the criterion of work, the best method is to make maximum use of corn silage and concentrate with only 2 kg of hay. At this time, you should be careful about nutritional diseases such as flatulence.
The average daily growth in this period is about 1200 to 1800 grams and the food conversion factor is about 9 to 10. At the age of 12 months, calves should weigh about 500 kg.
At the end of this period, every 15 days about 5 to 10 percent of the calves are weighed (sampling) or using a meter (a type of tape measure to measure weight), the weight gain of the cows is estimated and by comparing the amount The daily feed determined the slaughtering time of the calves.
* The use of enzyme or zeolite in fattening ration will improve growth and food yield.
* Using dry bread or wheat more than 2 kg per day causes digestive problems.
* Be sure to use rock salt and lickable bricks in the calves’ manger.
* Although the feed of the calves must be weighed, the manger of the fattening cows must not be left empty.
* Feed at least 3 times a day.
If you consider the following points when consuming concentrate, it will increase the weight and feed efficiency in fattening calves:
1- Corn silage is a very good fodder for fattening, and if the necessary foresight is done regarding its storage, preservation and maintenance, a combination of hay and corn silage with concentrate is an excellent mixture for fattening calves.
2- In the absence of corn silage, a mixture of alfalfa and wheat straw is a suitable combination with concentrate.
3-In order to feed fattening calves and light weight and heavy weight calves, their own concentrates are used and concentrates of other livestock should not be used. It is better to use light-weight fattening calf concentrate one week after weaning up to a weight of 250 kg, and heavy weight fattening calf concentrate from 250 kg to slaughter. Avoid adding other food items such as dry bread, bran, wheat, sugar beet, etc. to the concentrate and ration, because it will disturb the balance of energy and other nutrients.
4-Using a high percentage of concentrate and its palatability causes the animal to overeat and the possibility of bloat increases. Because the concentrate contains fast-fermenting carbohydrates that increase the production of gas in the rumen and on the other hand, reduce the gas discharge capacity of the rumen. Therefore, in order to prevent the occurrence of flatulence, to prevent excessive consumption of concentrate or to prevent hunger, gradual habituation to concentrate and the appropriate percentage of fodder in the ration are suggested as the best solutions.
5- Molasses and sugar beet pomace are among the food ingredients that adding them to the ration increases the occurrence of flatulence, because they increase the production of gas in the rumen due to fast-fermenting carbohydrates. Therefore, if the farmer intends to use them, this should be done gradually. and be done with a limited amount.
6- It is better for a male calf to consume 80-90 kg of milk calf starter along with milk. Cows should never have access to calf starters.
7- Stopping milk causes calf stress and possibly weight loss. Therefore, it is better not to stop the calf’s starter for a week and not to change the position of the calf.
8- If the concentrate consumed by the calves is to be changed, due to the difference in the quality and type of concentrate feed of different factories, the change of the concentrate should be done gradually over a period of 10 days, especially if the concentrate contains urea.
9- It is better to increase the number of meals as much as possible and more than two meals a day. Also try to feed the calves at fixed and fixed times.