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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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Puberty in dairy heifers can be defined as a measurable increase in blood progesterone with the presence of a corpus luteum (CL) on an ovary, and heifers begin actively cycling. Dairy heifers reach puberty at a defined stage of maturity (45 to 50 percent of mature size) rather than a certain age.

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Dairy managers and consultants focus on feeding and managing the lactating and dry dairy herd. This is logical since mistakes become readily apparent in substantial lost income, increased expenses or poor use of resources. The primary focus is directed toward providing the resources and working environment.

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The crude protein (CP) concentrations and sources used in calf starters and growers are frequently questioned and debated today. Thirty-five (or more) years ago when the understanding of rumen-degradable and undegradable protein was developing, many nutritionists started adding sources of undegradable protein to calf starters and growers, beginning this discussion.

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Every day, we make hundreds of decisions. Some are big, while some appear minor and without a significant future impact. Colostrum handling is one of those processes that falsely appears to only have short-term consequences.

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Amino acids are the building blocks that make up protein, and the actual nutrients that calves require. However, dairy calf nutrition is behind the curve with respect to embracing precise diet formulation by balancing for these key nutrients. Today, most milk replacers for calves are formulated and scrutinized based only on crude protein (CP) content, a number that doesn’t give us any real measure of the true building blocks the calves need: the amino acids.

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How much does it really cost you to feed a dairy heifer from birth to freshening? Find out for yourself with a newly updated spreadsheet tool that makes it easy to determine just how much money it takes to do it.

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