Elizabeth Russel, a Ph.D. student at the University of British Columbia, has been researching the value of starter intake on future success in dairy calves. Russel found that greater starter intake was correlated with faster-growing calves. For every 2.2 pounds of calf starter consumed between 31 and 69 days, an average of 2.9 pounds were gained during the same period.

But following the calves into adulthood shows a more long-term impact. Russel found a correlation between average daily gain and age at first calving. For every 2.2 pounds of average daily gain, heifers entered the milking string 42 days sooner.

These results indicate that early starter consumption has financial benefits for producers.

Read more on dairy nutrition and maximizing the efficiency of feed costs here.