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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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Colostrum management plays a vital role in a successful dairy operation and is an often overlooked opportunity where the returns will greatly outweigh the investment of time and capital.

The single-most important meal a calf will consume in its lifetime is the first feeding of colostrum. This meal is crucial for surviving both the first 24 hours and the first month, when calfhood diseases are most common.

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Calves are essential to a dairy operation, as they represent the future of the herd and its income. They are also the most vulnerable segment of a herd, highly susceptible to disease with the highest mortality rate among dairy cattle in their first eight weeks of life.

With calves serving as the cornerstone of any successful dairy, every effort should be made to keep them protected and healthy. For the best care of calves, there are four main areas to consider.

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There are many things dairy producers do every day to keep cows healthy and productive, but there may be nothing more important than focusing on the first two hours when a calf is born.

A recent article in the Journal of Dairy Science evaluated factors affecting passive transfer in heifer calves and how this related to the time of first insemination.

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Consistent nutrient content delivered at the desired temperature and appropriate time leads to better performance in preweaned calves.

Field studies of calf feeding systems using waste milk on dairies and calf ranches in the U.S. found that fat content varied from 1.1 percent to more than 4.5 percent, though protein content was less variable.

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As the weather gets cooler, often with large temperature swings between night and day, calf feeding programs need to be adjusted.

Maintenance requirements must be met for growth and development; however, ensuring strong growth has been linked to improved performance (earlier breeding and increased milk yield).

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After more than 55 years of focused research on colostrum, we have collectively agreed upon the fact that colostrum is beneficial, even vital, due to its role in passive transfer of immunoglobulins.

However, the story of colostrum continues to evolve with recent research, indicating that there is far more to colostrum than immunoglobulins.

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