The Scientific & Proactive Approach to Raising Healthy Calves

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The digestive tract of a newborn calf undergoes major changes as the calf develops into a functional ruminant.  At birth, the gut contains no microorganisms at all. It's not until the first few weeks of life, that the calf’s digestive tract functions as a simple monogastric system much like that of a pig, a dog or a human. Eventually it develops into a complex and dynamic microbial ecosystem as the animal grows to maturity.

The immature gut environment of the young calf faces abrupt changes in diet leading to increased susceptibility to pathogens which can result in diarrhea and respiratory disease. Microbial populations change dramatically as the calf grows. It can’t be emphasized enough that sound nutrition is key to helping calves through these changes. Being proactive, assuring calves have what they need, prevents or minimize challenges.  Otherwise you’re left to react to problems after they’ve done their damage.

Functional Feed Ingredients

Probiotics and prebiotics have the ability to modify or control activities of the gastrointestinal environment and are referred to as functional feed ingredients. Probiotics are live organisms that provide health benefits to the host. They stimulate development of a healthy gut environment by preventing bacterial pathogens from colonizing the intestine, by helping increase digestive capacity and improving immune function. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that selectively simulate growth and activity of microbes and also facilitate digestive and immune functions.

There are five different probiotics that together make up a healthy and beneficial recipe that provide supportive nutrition in young calves.

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus grows in large numbers in the small intestine where it promotes growth of beneficial bacteria, helps maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining and supports overall digestive function
  • Enterococcus faecium is found throughout the digestive tract and is antagonistic toward E. coli, has a positive effect on Lactobacillus bacteria and stimulates enzyme activity which helps improve metabolism.
  • Bacillus subtillus is a hardy bacteria that goes to work as soon as it enters the intestines. This bacteria has antimicrobial and anti-diarrheal effects. It stimulates the immune system and helps prevent intestinal inflammation.
  • Aspergillus oryzae has its greatest effect as the calf’s rumen begins to function in earnest. Calves can often be weaned earlier since rumen activity is increased, with greater overall digestibility and improved average daily gain.
  • Brewer’s yeast works along with Aspergillus oryzae, being most effective once the calf has a functional rumen. Inclusion of this probiotic can lead to improved dry feed intake, increased ruminal activity and improved digestion

Two prebiotics that are beneficial to a young calf include,

  • Hydrolyzed yeast contains cell wall components and extracts of yeast cells which possess functional molecules or have specific biological functions. They help with development and regulation of the immune system and can improve overall health by preventing attachment of certain pathogens.
  • Frutooligosaccharides (FOS) move to the large intestine where they stimulate growth of beneficial microorganisms and improve mineral absorption

Manna Pro offers Calf Care, supportive nutrition for raising calves. Calf Care contains all of manna_pro_calf_care_1lb-1.jpgthe probiotics and prebiotics mentioned above as well as dried egg product. This special ingredient provides antibodies against various pathogens that can adversely affect calves.

Calf Care helps support and stabilize the calf’s digestive system as it changes and develops from birth through weaning. Calf Care provides wrap-around support that helps maximize stability, decrease the risk of pathogens and ease transitions as the calf matures.

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Formulated with Opti-Gut, Calf Care provides calves with a healthy gut from the

start. Click Here to learn more about Opti-Gut.

Rob Costello

Dairy Technical Manager, Milk Specialties Global.

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