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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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Dairy calves are the future of your herd. In addition to excellent nutrition, high-quality facilities and veterinary care, give calves the greatest opportunity to meet their future potential by having the infrastructure necessary for employees to perform up to their potential.

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Editor’s note: This article is part one in a two-part series on what to look for during a calf pen walk-through. Part two: Calf hutch walk-throughs: What you need to look for.

Many times when I’m walking calves on a farm, an employee will ask, “So, what are you looking at anyway?”

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Calves are routinely raised in single pens until weaning or even longer, but housing milk-fed calves in pairs or groups is increasing in popularity. This, in part, is due to the availability of automatic feeders and the potential of reducing labor requirements per head.

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Raising replacement heifers is one of the most costly aspects of a dairy farm. Heifers don’t bring a return for two years or more until they enter the milking string. They are also the future of the dairy herd, and without them, the dairy wouldn’t last long.

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Pankratz Farms built a new calf facility that can raise heifer replacements for a future dairy herd of 400 cows. They currently have a 120-cow dairy herd.

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Steve and Barb Pankratz were looking to the future of their central Wisconsin dairy farm when they set out to build a new calf facility aimed at positioning the dairy to continue with three active generations now, and the promise of a future for the fourth.

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