Calf GroFacts

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Heifer – Holstein Growth Targets

We most often concentrate on milking cows to meet financial and milk supply commitments and to let the herd replacements take a back seat. Replacement heifers are tomorrow’s profit earners and deserve as much detailed attention as the milking herd. Managing the growth of replacement heifers to achieve sufficient body size and yet assure optimum mammary development is a concern among dairy research institutions, nutritionists and dairy producers.

The improved genetic heifer or modern Holstein heifer that has the potential… Continue reading

Calf Starter for VG Program

The calf starter ration, to compliment grain veal program, needs to be highly palatable and of excellent quality. When a high protein milk replacer (21%) is being fed, the calf starter should be at least 18-20% protein to maintain optimal growth.

It is critical that protein needs must be met to help maintain early growth rate advantage.

In raising calves, the major goals of feeding before weaning are to:

Calf Starter for Excel Program

The calf starter ration, to compliment an intensive calf management program, needs to be highly palatable and of excellent quality. When a high protein milk replacer (26%) is being fed, the calf starter should be at least 22% protein to maintain optimal growth.

It is critical that protein needs must be met to help maintain early growth rate advantage and prevent development of fatty udders.

In raising dairy heifers, the major goals of feeding before weaning are to:

Calf Post Weaning Environment

Grouping

After weaning, calves should be housed in equal sized / aged groups, ideally one week after milk feeding has ceased. This avoids two major changes in routine at one time. Group calves according to size.

Weaning from a machine feeding system is normally reached earlier (as early as week 5) and should still be tied to starter intake (min 900g for 3 consecutive days).

Environment

The calf’s environment is very important in ensuring its health. Calf housing should provide… Continue reading

Calf Feeding Systems

There are many different methods of rearing calves, however, the most frequently used systems are:

  • Pail/nipple rearing, feeding on a twice or three times per day basis
  • Ad-lib feeding through a machine.

Pail Rearing

Pail feeding systems require a period of training to ensure the calf drinks well. Individually penning the calves for four to six days is the best way to ensure this happens.

Calves should be ‘observed’ at times additional to feeding times to check for signs of… Continue reading

Stress

Stress is defined as a nonspecific response of the body to any demand, and is the environment in which the animal resides. Stress alters the steady state of the body or challenges the adaptive processes of cattle.

Nutrition and Stress interact in at least two different ways and are a continous process :

  • stress can produce ,or aggravate, nutrient deficiences
  • nutritional deficiences can produce a stress response.

Some causes of stress :

6a

Effect on the animal:
Stress conditions
↓… Continue reading

Clean-sterilized feeding utensils

Newborns have very naïve immune systems. Severe infections can be introduced and spread by bacterial contamination on esophageal feeders, buckets, nipples and bottles.

Review the cleaning and sanitation procedures on your facility to be sure that all the utensils have been properly cleaned and maintained.

Clean feeding utensils are critical to the maintenance of good health in newborns.

If the equipment and feeding utensils are not clean enough to feed human babies then they should not be used on newborn… Continue reading

Biosecurity Management

his is the employment of management practices that reduce animal exposure to infectious agents. These management procedures complement efforts to make animals more resistant to infection. A Biosecurity program must be individually tailored to the herd and its specific concerns and goals.

Areas to consider include:

  • Entry of new animals,
  • Quarantine of new animals,
  • Prepurchase vaccination, testing or screening for disease,
  • Knowledge of the herd origin for new purchases,
  • Minimize feed and water contamination
  • Minimize environmental contamination,
  • Disinfection procedures,
  • Minimize… Continue reading

Infectious Disease Management

Every animal producer needs a disease monitoring and management program. These programs should be monitored with the practicing vet and might consider:

  • Which diseases are present,
  • Which ones can be minimized or prevented,
  • How infections ones are identified and treated,
  • What safeguards are in place to minimize disease spread
  • Minimize the likelihood of public health problems.

Health problems and their prevention should be central to many of the daily management decisions.

Losses from ongoing infectious problems tend to be insidious.… Continue reading

Feed Economics

Feed represents a major cost item in any production facility. The feeding program and type of feed used must be an important consideration. Rations that are not correctly formulated will quickly impact on the feed economics of this short growing period. Average daily gain (ADG) and feed efficiency (FE) ratio are key factors in profit realization. The FE achieved in any system of production can be affected by several factors:

Nutritive value of the diet

1) Maintenance:
Both ADG and… Continue reading

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