Features of the LifeStart program break new ground for the improved health and performance of New Zealand calves.   It assists the farmer research the issues around calf rearing. Remember to subscribe to updates for the most recent posts.

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It is based on new research and the application of science with direct application for New Zealand farmers raising calves.

The LifeStart Program is ideal for calves being reared on milk, or milk-based formulations whether for bull-beef or for dairy heifer replacements. It will provide benefits over and above calf rearing systems based on early inclusion of colostrum. Colostrum remains an important part of calf rearing. It is Dr Pauling’s belief that colostrum is required for longer than the normally recommended period of 2 – 3 days, and that many calves receiving just this limited amount of colostrum will benefit from the LifeStart Programme.

It is based on ingredients in foods. Foods that impact on the naturally occurring bacteria which inhabit the intestine.  These foods are prebiotic carbohydrates.

While not digestible by mammalian enzymes systems, they do provide the basis of fermentation by naturally occurring bacteria in the intestine. Here they stimulate a range of “good” bacteria with important health benefits.

Fermentable fibre is important nutritional benefit for intestinal health, mucin production and release, maturation of cells lining the intestine being just a few. They are also important for development of the innate immune system in neonatal animals.

And when used in calves under New Zealand farming conditions give health benefits leading to performance benefits as well.

Health Status of Calf-rearing Units

Spring-born calves under New Zealand conditions are under severe and ongoing health stress making prebiotics and some probiotics ideal to obtain health benefits

  1. Calves newly born are often collected from a heavily contaminated calving-down area
  2. Calves are concentrated into groups held in confinement
  3. Hygiene standards often fall to less than ideal, including lack of sterilization, and person movement through pens easily transfers infection
  4. Colostral transfer failure (FCT) is a common problem especially in the latter part of the spring calving season
  5. Conditions are damp and humid
  6. Infectious agents are being excreted at high levels from calves with sub-clinical infections e.g. rotavirus, and cryptosporidiosis leading to highly contaminated areas for calf-rearing
  7. Once clinically affected with scours, the excretion of infective stages rises dramatically contaminating the calf area unless they have been removed before scouring starts
  8. Calves may have been transported, which adds further stress irrespective of distance travelled.
  9. Low temperatures (and wind) are severe stressors to calves.

Under these conditions prebiotics and dietary soluble fibres are ideally suited to provide health and productivity benefits. They also provide a supportive role for bacterial fermentation in the large intestine where bacteria form short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids are the energy source for large intestinal fluid resorption. Stimulation of these bacterial populations are considered to aid the fluid recovery from dehydration.

The LifeStart Program is based on soluble dietary fibre (carbohydrates) i.e. resistant maltodextrin which are included in all products. EXAGEN acts as an aid to limiting the severity of the disease cryptosporidiosis while retaining prebiotic components in its formulation.

All products contain prebiotic and soluble dietary fibre activity include the isotonic solutions, ENERVADE an Electrolyte, and KRYPTADE Electrolyte, and EXAGEN. Beta-cyclodextrin is a prebiotic carbohydrate. More importantly it has a specific activity against cryptosporidial oocysts, outside of its normal prebiotic function. KRYPTADE and EXAGEN were developed to have this pharmacological activity enhanced to provide the first real benefits to aid calves as both a treatment aid for calves affected by scours and also as a preventative aid from the severe consequences of cryptosporidial scours. Hence The Crypto Control Program was developed.

This program incorporates a number of features. A number of products are available for addition to calf rearing practices. They include proprietary brands: both prebiotics and probiotics. Not all products claiming benefits are equal and as calf rearing practices differ between farms, the outcomes may differ depending on the level of ‘stress’ prior to or during their use.  When used regularly they may improve health and performance. These ‘additives’ may not be as effective as examining the colostrum management and  milk feeding practices (quality, quantity and frequency).

The program considers such management factors as type of electrolyte for recovery of scouring calves, the management of use of antibiotics…..

EXAGEN, KRYPTADE, and ENERVADE  are the registered trade names of  Professional Veterinary Distributors Ltd.