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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.

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Feed and labor. These are usually the two biggest items on dairy producers’ minds when they think about their cost of production. What they might not think about as often is the cost of replacement heifers. Between feed, labor, production, capital and overhead costs, herd owners have reported spending between $1,533 and $2,628 for each heifer raised.

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Many calf raisers have placed great emphasis on weight gain, measuring success by average daily gain and doubling birthweight in the first 56 to 60 days. While weight gain is important, it doesn’t always equate to structural growth.

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With nine essential nutrients and 1 gram of protein per ounce, milk provides outstanding nourishment with every sip. Perfected by nature over millennia, milk and its byproducts have long been studied by nutritionists and food scientists alike.

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As I travel from farm to farm, I often notice that a dairy farm manager or owner’s description of their colostrum and newborn protocols is different than what I hear when I enter the maternity barn.

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Raising healthy calves is crucial to the success of a dairy operation, as heifers are the future of the milking herd. There are several important aspects related to pre-weaned calf management, including maternity pen management, colostrum management, nutrition and housing.

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It is now common to find butyrate in commercial milk replacers and solid feeds for calves. However, the impact it has on the calf varies depending on the delivery method and the source of dietary butyrate being used. Let’s have a closer look at why butyrate is a valuable feed additive, how it can be supplemented and how its use in feeds affects calf performance.

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