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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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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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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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