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CALVES & HEIFERS

The future of your herd depends on quality colostrum, sound milk replacer or pasteurized waste milk along with proper bedding and ventilation.

LATEST

The Grober Young Animal Development Centre (GYADC) has been working on various management and nutrition trials evaluating group housing since 2009. In 2011, our research evaluated unlimited daily milk allowance delivered and recorded via an automatic calf feeder.

In this trial, unlimited daily milk meant calves were limited to 3 litres per drinking visit but could consume unlimited amounts of milk throughout the 24-hour period.

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Today we understand that calves must be offered much larger volumes of milk or milk replacer during the first month of life to achieve their growth potential and remain healthy.

We have seen a move to group housing and automated feeding of calves, with some producers offering free-choice intake of milk or milk replacer.

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Better-managed calf barns are beginning to rival outdoor hutches – the long-held gold standard of calf housing.

Dr. Ken Nordlund explained that there are three reasons why interest in calf barns is growing: first, to avoid dealing with inclement weather; second, automatic calf feeders are not feasible for outdoor hutches; and third, emerging data shows properly ventilated calf barns are providing health results equivalent to hutches.

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A fortunate start of life is a key factor for long-term productive success. Directly after birth, the newborn calf is challenged by the extra-uterine environment.

The birth process can impair the calf’s adaptive capacity. Without additional care, this impairment can have long-term consequences. Newborn calf care to support its adaptive capacity is therefore an essential element of herd health management.

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Like any newborn, calves need to be nurtured early so they can thrive and compete later in life. Her digestive system at birth is designed for milk. She is frequently challenged with digestive sicknesses in her first two weeks of life – followed by respiratory sicknesses in her second and third month of life.

Frequently, she is raised in naturally ventilated, unheated or uncooled housing.

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Commercial milk replacers are often compared and evaluated based on the percentage of protein and fat on the label. Discussion rarely delves into what makes up the components of fat and its effects on digestion, absorption or growth.

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