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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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Over the last decade, we have seen an increase in calf scours caused by the protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium parvum. There are other species of cryptosporidium that infect calves but are of lesser importance.

Protozoans are a class of organisms that have only a single cell and include the organisms that cause coccidiosis in calves (Eimeria zuernii and Eimeria bovis). Unlike the eimeria parasites, cryptosporidium are very difficult to kill once they infect a calf.

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Last year, the Progressive Dairy Operators (PDO) surveyed members about the feeding, management and health of their pre-weaned calves on the farm.

PDO received survey replies from 154 farms. The average farm milked 136 cows, with a range of 22 to 630 cows milked on the day the survey was completed.

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Editor’s note: This article is the second in a two-part series featuring information from the Precision Dairy Technology Forum hosted by Penn State University. This article appeared in the December 2, 2013 Extra e-newsletter.  Part one "Hands-on management key for transition to robotic technology."

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Virtually every dairy producer who raises calves has a “program” of some type for getting these young animals off to a good start. The basics, such as timely feeding of colostrum and good hutch sanitation, are core to that program.

There are some things that can’t be done “too well” to get highly susceptible animals up and going.

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Owning and managing a dairy brings a large number of different challenges on a daily basis; this, in turn, often results in overlooking the basics of raising calves.

Getting your calves off to a good start can be the key to raising quality heifers.

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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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