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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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On average, dairies lose 5 to 15 percent of their calves in the first three weeks of life due to scours, making it the number one killer of calves. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right tools and protocols, it is possible to maintain less than a 1.5 percent death loss in these young calves.

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Calf management programs have traditionally focused on calf survival and treatment rates. Traditional feeding strategies involved restricting the amount of milk or milk replacer offered to the calf to encourage grain intake in an effort to accelerate weaning, reduce the potential for scours and other illness, and reduce the cost of feeding and management.

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In our previous article, “Colostrum, transition milk and maternal impact: There’s still a lot to learn,” we discussed the overwhelming amount of information left to be uncovered in regard to the newborn dairy calf and colostrum management.

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In this day and age, producers are great at making heifers. Reproductive and calf raising management practices have dramatically improved through the years, resulting in an abundance of replacement heifers. The benefit of that is we have plenty of animals to keep operations full and have the genetically best heifers possible.

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Whether we’re talking about a kid with one 4-H calf or a calf ranch with tens of thousands of calves, the key questions about feeding calves are the same.

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Proper barn planning saves time and money. For every decision, it is important to understand its associated ramifications. In calf barns, housing style and pen configuration decisions impact ventilation options, which in turn affects the overall success of the barn.

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