Calf rearing starts in the womb

Our knowledge on the effects of nutrition and the environment of the pregnant cow on her unborn calf is increasing more and more.

A strongly negative energy balance of the cow, or other stress factors – like heat stress –, affect the development of the placenta, and, therefore, also affect the growth, the insulin sensitivity and the birth weight of the calf.  Also other studies1 reveal that heat stress during pregnancy influences the birth weight of the calf. Calves born from cows that experienced heat stress during pregnancy where up to 5 kg lighter at birth than calves from cows without heat stress.

In practice, we see that trace elements and vitamins have positive effects on the maternal factors that affect the unborn calf. Boluses are the preferred way to administer trace elements and vitamins gradually. Cows giving birth have an increased vitamin E requirement. A proper dry period bolus  (like the Topro Dry bolus) provides adequate amounts of trace elements and the necessary additional vitamins. We see that calving progresses more easily, and the newborn calves are more vital. Also, fewer cows are suffering from retained placentas after parturition.

Research at the University of Ghent (Belgium)2 shows that the nutrition of the mother animal is important for the milk production of her offspring later in life. If the diet of the cow is not well-balanced, her calves will have a lower birth weight, but also their fertility and reproduction will be compromised by the inferior diet.


Figuur 1: Invloeden van moederdier op het ongeboren kalf