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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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Respiratory disease in calves continues to be an issue dairy producers are dealing with. According to the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) Dairy 2007 study, respiratory disease was the second leading cause of death in unweaned heifers and the single-largest cause of weaned heifer deaths.

And, more often than not, poor ventilation is the root cause of the respiratory issue.

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Scientists have long known that the nutrition and management of a pregnant female has direct effects on the health and growth of the fetus and the baby.

Some work at Southampton University in England showed that human mothers who were malnourished during the first half of their pregnancy had children with an increased incidence of health problems as adults, including diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

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Some producers are good at getting calves out alive, and some are not.

Good calving technique is not something you learn in school, it is something you learn by experience – and it is always better to learn from someone else’s experience.

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Calf raising is a unique enterprise (some would say art). Rearing calves requires specialized knowledge, great attention to detail and a good amount of patience.

Many dairy farmers consider raising heifers to be a “necessary evil” and would prefer not to raise heifers if they could run their dairy without the calf enterprise.

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Immunity in a healthy and strong calf begins before birth.

Producers often focus on the pathogens that create disease in young calves, but the focus needs to shift to a holistic approach in building up immunity through colostrum, nutrition, the calving process, environment and management.

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Management strategy defines the success of calf programs. Calves are challenged from birth with an immature immune system, and at the same time they are programmed to grow quickly.

A large part of managing young calves is their feeding program. It is an important first step to ensure that the milk replacer has been formulated with good-quality milk ingredients for optimal digestion and growth.

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