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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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We have gained tremendous momentum in dairy calf nutrition research, with publications tripling over the last 20 years. And rightfully so, since dairy calves are the future of the milking herd, and how they are fed and managed during early life influences their future reproductive efficiency, capacity for milk production and health.

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Healthy calves and a successful group of youngstock teammates (employees) can set the tone for morale across the entire dairy. When the calves are happy, the owners are happy. Happy, healthy calves tend to transition into healthy springers and then into productive lactating cows.

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A newborn calf is the most vulnerable animal on a dairy. Born with an immature immune system, the calf can’t effectively handle pathogen challenges in the environment until 3 to 4 weeks old. In the meantime, young calves are bombarded with a host of stressors and disease-causing pathogens.

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One question commonly asked by dairy producers is: Which forage sources should I use when beginning to feed calves a total mixed ration (TMR) after weaning?

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When temperatures dip into single digits and below, dairy farmer Stacy Jauquet up-levels her calf care program to maintain a zero-mortality rate, even through winter’s extremes.

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Note: These tips are in response to a question posed on the Progressive Dairy Twitter account. To submit questions for future Ask a Vet columns, please click here to email inquiries, with subject, “Ask a Vet.”

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