Dairy cattle breeding in Bulgaria is a real challenge and that is why the iron nerves, the strict preparation, hygiene and organization, as well as the constant self-training and improvement, are obligatory conditions for survival! Hardly anyone will dispute the fact that our animal husbandry is light years away from that in Western countries. But, despite the heavy bureaucratic and NON-state reality, many of the farmers with great efforts over the years have developed modern and successful farms and we are proud of them! Congratulations to all the characters who manage to raise highly productive purebred animals with high quality products!

For a large part of the home farms, however, some very important issues are still taboo and therefore we will try, by publishing materials from the net, to gradually introduce them to you.

        Today we will present you some practical advice on a topic that is unfortunately underestimated in many places, namely the proper nutrition of adolescent breeding animals – from the period of weaning to the first calving. The practice of seeing animals as a profitable investment is still valid only after they start producing dairy products. This is a very misconception, because just as we humans can tell at a glance who is missing the “first seven years”, so we can determine whether the farmer has taken the necessary care of the cows in terms of their reproduction and productivity. the important months of their full weight and functional development!

Other factors that determine the quality and good production, health and profitability of the herd in general, along with nutrition, are, of course, good genetics, adequate living conditions, impeccable hygiene, employee qualifications, timely vaccination, proper monitoring, etc. . We will discuss them in detail in separate articles later.

            One of the most important conditions for proper nutrition of breeding animals on the farm is their grouping as follows:

            – Adolescents – from weaning to 12 months of age In this group it is necessary to divide into 2 subgroups – from weaning to 6 months and from 6 to 12 months. During these 2 periods the young animals have completely different specific needs, according to the weight and functional changes they go through. It is wrong to take equal care for animals at an early age and for those who are already showing signs of puberty!

In the first subgroup of animals – up to 6 months – there is no danger of accumulating an unhealthy amount of body fat and high daily gain is a top priority. It is considered an optimal growth of 850 g. Many experts associate the high daily growth at this age with the subsequent high first lactation of the animal. For this reason, it is very important for cattle at this age to have their own different ration to provide them with the necessary amount of energy and protein. Dry matter intake should be 2.8% of the body weight of the animals. The optimal ratio is energy 10.5 – 11MJ ME / kg and 16.5% protein. A possible compromise on smaller farms is to give juveniles a ration like that of high-milk animals, but this can only be a temporary option and will not give optimal results in the long run.

In the second subgroup (6-12 months) the daily gain should be 800 g. During this period “puberty” occurs and the signs of puberty become visible in the normal development of the individual. Excessive daily growth – over 900 g is unhealthy and the ration during this period must be adequately balanced. In these animals there is a high risk of excessive accumulation of fat, which is not insignificant in the subsequent functional development of the animals! This obesity is easily avoided without most farmers realizing that it is during this period that the milk tissue of the udder is formed and in case of excessive amount of fat it is replaced by fatty tissue that cannot produce milk. This directly damages the ability of animals for high milk productivity and the process is irreversible! The investment in a properly balanced ration of animals at this age is far less than future losses in unsold production, but because the damage is not visible and cannot be calculated accurately, farmers in many places do not set a separate specific ration for animals from this group. We advise everyone to pay attention and, if necessary, consult experts! During this period, the correct intake of dry matter is very important and the average amount should be about 2 kg per 100 kg of live weight. According to individual characteristics, the amount varies between 1.7-2.4 dry matter per 100 kg of live weight. Coarse feed plays a major role here. The optimal ratio is at a dry matter intake of 2.1 -2.4 kg per 100 kg of crude protein to be 14% and energy 10.5 mj IU / kg, and at a intake of 1.2 kg to take 15% crude protein and energy 10.5MJ ME / kg.

Like all other processes in the farm and the development of animals in this period must be subject to daily competent monitoring and in case of excessive accumulation of fat, the ration must be adjusted in a timely manner. We advise you to turn to experts and carefully observe the animals, because it is during this period that you lay the foundations of high quality production of healthy animals without reproductive problems! In small herds, if it is not possible to determine a different ration precisely during this period, the animals can accept the ration of dry animals, adding grain, chalk and meal to compensate for the low levels of energy, calcium and protein. Another option is to add straw to the ration of the first subgroup for up to 6 months to reduce the high energy and protein content.

            – Young animals from 12 to 22 months of age – and in this group, like the previous one, the animals are divided into 2 subgroups – from 12 m to breeding and bred heifers. Both subgroups are fed in the same way, but here the division is necessary for technological reasons in order to establish timely overclocking. Dry matter intake is 2.15 kg per 100 kg body weight, energy content is 9MJ IU / kg and 13% crude protein. It is extremely important that the daily gain is about 700 g and does not exceed 800 g. Otherwise, exceeding this limit can lead to difficult births, which in turn lead to loss of offspring, low milk yield, trauma, reproductive problems and metabolic diseases such as ketosis.

– Pregnant heifers from 22 months to 3 weeks before calving, in which the intake of dry matter is about 2 kg per 100 kg live weight, and the required energy is 10.5MJ IU / kg and 13.5% crude protein. Monitoring during this period is also greatly underestimated and is absolutely necessary. Pregnant animals are highly sensitive and any visible change in their behavior is a possible signal of a problem that can be resolved in a timely manner in consultation with an expert. Improper nutrition during this period can seriously damage the fetus or slow down its development. All external factors, such as high temperatures, must also be taken into account and the necessary comfort provided for the animals. With competent monitoring, the number of “causeless” abortions is greatly reduced, especially in combination with a complete and balanced diet.

– Pregnant heifers from 3 weeks before calving to calving – here the dry matter is about 2 kg, and the energy is 10.5MJ IU / kg and 15 -16% crude protein. Do not underestimate the fact that this first calving for these animals and a balanced diet, their separation from other animals, calmness and comfort, determine their reproductive health and milk productivity not only in the first lactation, but also in the future.

            “In order to take, you must first give!” The elderly people told us, and we will repeat it to you. If you provide your animals with the necessary comfort, they will return your investment many times over.

            NARMS will assist all its members to consult a nutritionist if necessary and interested.

            In conclusion, we will remind you that for us – the people, proper nutrition is the basis of energy, fitness and longevity!