Nutreco looks to develop research on mechanisms behind dairy calf nutrition

Nutreco looks to develop research on mechanisms behind dairy calf nutrition

Dairy farmers need greater insight into how to optimize calf diets, says Nutreco as it invests just over €1m ($1.3m) in a new dairy calf and beef cattle nutrition research facility in the Netherlands.

The Dutch feed giant said the new center, set to open in Boxmeer early next year, will expand its trial capacity and will help give it greater market share in the global ruminant nutrition market, particularly in Russia, Asia, Latin America and Africa.  

The ruminant research team at Nutreco is composed of 13 scientists in two continents. 

The new center, for which construction is set to get underway this year, will be the company’s first to focus on dairy calf and beef cattle diets and it includes an additional 160 calf places and 80 beef cattle places for field trials. The feed giant already has a dairy nutrition research unit in Boxmeer and a similar facility in Canada. 

Mechanisms behind young animal nutrition

The new center, said Nutreco, will support its dairy calf nutrition program, LifeStart, set to be rolled out in October this year. 

The initiative aims to give dairy farmers a more thorough grounding in the mechanisms behind young animal nutrition.

“One of the fundamental choices a producer must make is the use of whole milk or calf milk replacer (CMR) in the feeding of pre-weaned calves.

Currently, there are a lot of misconceptions about both inputs in the dairy sector, and we aim to correct that with LifeStart,” said Rinsejan Boersma, ruminant portfolio manager at Nutreco.

There are several critical control points in a feeding program for calves, including colostrum management, consistency of feed quality and calorie intake, consistency of the feeding schedule and the convenience of the feeding system

Boersma told us Nutreco's calf nutrition initiative will constitute research and expertise on animal health and nutrition with practical farm management inputs 

“It is a platform dedicated to the promotion and refinement of practical farming methods in calf nutrition and the scientific principles behind them,” he said. 

Optimal development of calf health

The R&D team in Boxmeer, continued the ruminant expert, will be evaluating ways to boost the feed intake of calves, which is critical for the optimal development of calf health and performance.

Nutreco said the new facility will include equipment to monitor feed intake and animal performance for both individual and group-housed animals, including automatic feeders and special housing, which will make detailed metabolic studies possible. 

The Dutch firm also hopes to leverage the increasing demand for animal nutritional products that boost animal health and cut producer reliance on antibiotics. 

“We have been working on nutritional solutions that support the well-being of livestock, and, as such, prevent disease, which, in turn, reduces the need for antibiotics.  Young animal nutrition is important also, in this respect, as it helps in terms of long term health of the animals.

We have gained significant insight into the relation between nutrition and the gut health of swine, ruminants, and poultry. In the near future, we will launch additives that optimize animal health through immune modulation,” added Boersma. 

Last year saw Nutreco upgrade its swine research center in Boxmeer.

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