LifeStart – Revolutionising Calf Nutrition

23 December 2019

The first few weeks of the calf’s life are a critical window of opportunity; calves only have one chance to achieve a good start.

LifeStart is a concept which has been designed to shift heifer rearing objectives from the short to long term and aims to maximise animal performance through a unique focus on early life nutrition. It is based on metabolic programming, which simply means the potential of the adult cow is determined by the first stages of the calf’s life. The three LifeStart pillars should be implemented to enhance this crucial period.


1. Optimal development

Feed conversion is highest during the first weeks of life, so this is a vital opportunity to maximise growth and development. Calves should be offered a higher plane of nutrition pre-weaning (900 to 1200 g of powder daily at 150 g/litre). To help achieve growth targets, calves should be at least twice their birth weight at weaning. LifeStart science has revealed that pre-weaning growth has a significant effect on the lifetime health and performance of the herd. Additionally, heifer calves on a higher plane of nutrition have shown improved mammary development, which is essential for the future lactation performance of the cow.
When feeding a higher plane of nutrition, it is important to use a good quality, highly digestible calf milk replacer. If a poorer quality milk replacer is fed at high levels, nutritional scour may result. Trouw Nutrition calf milk replacers, which have been formulated to high, LifeStart scientific standards, display the LifeStart logo and are suitable for feeding at high levels.

2. Resilience to disease

The most important factor affecting the young calf’s resilience to disease is colostrum management. Calves must be fed 4 litres of high quality colostrum within six hours of birth. This will give calves the best chance for improved health, making them more resilient and increasing the potential lifespan of the herd. Following this, weaned calves fed a higher plane of nutrition showed improved health and vitality with increased resistance to disease challenges after weaning than calves fed traditionally low levels of milk replacer.


3. Longevity

Achieving the full potential of lifetime yield and longevity is key to farm profitability. The latest LifeStart research presented at CAFRE Greenmount’s ‘Unlocking your herd’s potential’ conference showed that calves offered a higher plane of nutrition pre-weaning survive longer in the herd compared to those offered lower levels of calf milk replacer. The research also shows that calves never make up any shortfall in growth rates and organ development, when fed lower rates of milk replacer. Therefore, the pre-weaning phase has a significant role in the future performance and longevity of the cow. Maximising longevity also improves the efficiency of milk production, while less greenhouse gases are produced and environmental impact is reduced.


Milkivit Energizer is our new energised calf milk (ECM), which was designed to revolutionise the way we feed calves - with the LifeStart pillars in mind. LifeStart science has shown benefits to growth and health when calves consume milk replacer with higher energy levels and lower osmolality. ECM’s close resemblance to cow’s milk, compliments the balanced nutrient supply to ensure maximum growth while supporting gut health.