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Calves & Heifers

The future of your herd depends on quality colostrum, milk or replacer feeding and disease control along with proper bedding, sanitation and ventilation.

LATEST

In just a few months, the use of medically important feed-grade antibiotics on your dairy will require veterinarian authorization. When the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) takes effect on Jan. 1, 2017, the classification of these medications will change from over-the-counter status to VFD designation.

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Feeding calves is much more than what is in the pail or bottle. The way milk, water and starter are delivered can play just as big of a role in the health and performance of the calf.

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The virtues of colostrum in successful calf raising cannot be overemphasized. This “liquid gold” not only delivers critical immune protection but also provides specialized nutrients, energy, fluid and warmth to newborn calves.

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The latest USDA National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) study results show dairy producers are doing a better job of colostrum management (see related story NAHMS Diary 2014: Producers making progress on pre-weaned calf management).

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While sexed semen is often cited as the reason for the increased number of available dairy replacement heifers, another factor is helping create a larger pool of next-generation milk producers: U.S. dairy farmers are doing a better job keeping heifer calves alive and getting them off to a healthy start.

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When Robert Gervais, founder of Gervais Family Farm in Bakersfield, Vermont, bought the original farm in 1960, his wife, Gisele, was seven months pregnant and he had to borrow $10 for the lawyer’s fee and a down payment on the then-220-acre, 35-cow tiestall dairy.

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