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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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Being a part of the dairy industry is a fulfilling and rewarding privilege, but it can also be an unpredictable journey. Milk prices are constantly fluctuating, and it can make budget evaluation difficult. For this reason, we pose a simple question: What should producers be feeding their calves from an economic standpoint?

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The U.S. calf mortality rate is 6% to 8% (7.8%, USDA, 2007; 8.1%, USDA, 2010; 6%, USDA, 2017), inclusive of all housing types. According to Dairy Calf and Heifer Association Gold Standards, the target mortality rate from 24 hours old to 60 days old is 3% or less.

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Fat is an energy-dense nutrient that is a major component in calf milk replacers (MRs) and dry feeds. Over the last 15-plus years, there have been an array of studies looking at MR formulas with different crude-protein-to-fat ratios.

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Many people know the length of the daily photoperiod signals chickens and other birds to start or stop laying eggs.

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Successful colostrum management requires careful attention to cleanliness. Colostrum, while it is still in a healthy cow, should have a bacteria count of essentially zero. However, by the time it gets into the calf, bacteria counts are often very high.

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Raising dairy heifers off-site increases the possibility of disease introduction, especially if animals are reared in a facility where they commingle with cattle from other dairies.

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