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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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Sixty years ago, Dr. Virginia Apgar developed a simple method to evaluate the well-being of a newborn child at birth. Used worldwide, this assessment is performed within minutes of birth using nothing more than a stethoscope and a clock.

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The developing horns of dairy calves are typically removed to reduce the risk of injuries to farm workers or other cattle later in life. Horns of calves 3 months old or older are normally removed surgically (“dehorning”) by scooping, shearing or sawing. Horn buds of younger calves are typically removed (“disbudding”) using a caustic paste or a hot iron.

There is scientific evidence that all of these methods cause immediate pain and post-operative pain. The immediate pain can be reduced using a local anesthetic to provide a nerve block – this procedure has been used safely for decades and costs just pennies a shot.

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Cleaning calf and heifer feeding equipment is a vital part of every dairy. Without proper cleaning and sanitation of feeding equipment, disease and illness can quickly spread between calves.

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Many producers report problems rearing calves without disease. First off, it is important to understand that they are living beings and, as such, some will get sick. Second, these are babies, so they are more susceptible to disease than adults.

Having said that, we all strive to raise them as healthy as possible. Here are a couple “secrets” to grow healthy calves: Give them a great start with colostrum, then feed them enough to grow and develop their immune system. It is actually as simple as that.

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Replacement heifers are the future of the dairy herd, but very little research is focused on these animals.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Dairy Education and Research Centre have recently completed three experiments designed to determine the effects of different methods of feeding weaned 5-month-old to 8-month-old Holstein heifers.

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Although easy to remember, the 4-4-4 rule in colostrum management is often difficult to put into practice. This rule states that the cow should be milked the first four hours after calving and that the calf should be provided with 4 quarts of high-antibody colostrum within four hours after birth.

Scientific explanations backing up that rule are quite simple:

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