The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

The end goal of a heifer-raising operation is to help them reach as close to a mature weight as possible when they have their first calf. The start of that goal begins at birth with an intensive nutritional program that carries the calf through weaning and sets her up for ongoing productivity as a heifer.

The benefits of phytogenic essential oils are recognized and well-documented. Several research trials have documented the benefits of including 100% natural oregano essential oil supplements in calf diets. Orego-Stim, from Anpario, is a flavoring compound that provides a source of 100% natural oregano essential oil.

An independent trial conducted at the Agrifood and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Northern Ireland was undertaken to assess the impact of Orego-Stim on the growth and health of calves fed the product in reconstituted milk replacer.

Calves that received Orego-Stim Liquid at 2ml/calf/day (.41tsp/calf/day) in the milk replacer were 2 kg (4.41 lbs) heavier at weaning and nearly 3 kg (6.61 lbs) heavier at 70 days of age, which equaled a 6.8% greater average daily gain benefit over the control group. There were no scours in any of the calves, and in the control group four calves were treated for pneumonia.

This research trial demonstrates the value in using Orego-Stim, a natural flavoring additive, to help support growth rates in calves prior to, and beyond, weaning. Additional research has shown that heavier calves at weaning, and those with a higher average daily gain from birth to weaning, have demonstrated a higher milk production in their first lactation. In addition, a greater average daily gain and bodyweight are associated with improved fertility in heifers. The improved growth performance seen in this trial could result in an additional 21-31kg (5.4-8 gal) of milk in the first lactation, which could provide a return on investment with Orego-Stim Liquid of 3:1.