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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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If we look at the dairy industry, there are numerous approaches to calf rearing. While there is no one single, current-day approach that is best, there is one optimal way to rear calves we can learn much from. That optimal way of rearing calves is to leave the calf with her dam. This is the way the calf was designed to be raised and nurtured.

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The most efficient rate of growth a calf experiences is in the first month of life. Strong growth and good calf health is linked to improved performance of heifers with a trend toward earlier first breeding and increased milk yields.

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“That’s a lot of expensive feed.” This is a common initial reaction to feeding calves a higher plane of nutrition.

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I recently received an email from a veterinarian in an Asian country who just started working with a large commercial dairy. On this farm, at the time of the email, there were to be more than 500 calves born in the next three months, most of which were heifers (the farm uses sexed semen).

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I am often asked to visit a calf operation to discuss feeding programs, disease prevention, operation management and overall calf performance. On these visits, we usually start in the office or the milk mixing area and go over expectations of the visit or establish goals of the operation.

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Colostrum is undoubtedly one of the most important feeding practices for newborn calves. Sound, well-communicated protocols are often put into place to ensure successful passive transfer of immunity and a healthy start for the newborn calf.

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