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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.

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Dykshoorn Farms, located near Abbotsford in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, is a family enterprise. Originally purchased in 1945 by Mike Dykshoorn’s grandfather and his three sons, it has now supported four generations of the Dykshoorn family.

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Colostrum is good for calves. It is the only way we transfer the cow’s immunity to the calf at birth. Having good-quality colostrum is why many dairies have gone to monitoring the quality of their colostrum to make sure they are providing their newborn calves with the highest-quality product they can.

A colostrometer or a BRIX refractometer (preferred) can help them determine on-site if the concentration of antibodies is high enough to give to the newborn calf.

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New data confirms that contaminated colostrum impairs calves. How can you get a cleaner colostrum?

Calves from different dairies, even after they’ve been transferred to a custom raising facility, often have different destinies. Having consulted with large calf ranches in the U.S., I found that operations with low mortalities overall still have a calf mortality range of 1 to 20 percent, depending on the dairies they get calves from.

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One of the best ways to ensure a successful colostrum-management program is by testing colostrum on-farm and verifying passive transfer of immunity. It can be easy, affordable, and the health and productivity of our calves are worth the effort.

Looking at colostrum or knowing the parity of the cow should never be relied upon as an accurate assessment of colostrum quality.

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It is no secret dairy producers don’t like dealing with sick calves. They are young, vulnerable and treatment can be expensive.

Diarrhea, or what is commonly referred to as scours, continues to be the top challenge we face with preweaned calves. Preventing calfhood diarrhea should always be our first priority, but an effective preventive strategy also includes knowing when to utilize treatment.

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Weaning is a critical transition period for young dairy calves. Under traditional cow-calf operations in the beef industry, the calf stays with the cow through the milk feeding period.

Through this time the calf has access to the mother’s milk and learns socially with the mother to graze and ruminate as early as 3 weeks old.

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