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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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Establishing a healthy gut microbiome from the beginning of a calf’s life can have a lasting impact on her success. A properly developed gut can help improve lifetime feed efficiency and support overall calf health. You see, the gut is the first line of defense for a calf’s immune system, which can protect her from scours, pneumonia and other health challenges.

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Pair housing (or small groups of up to four calves) for pre-weaned calves is increasing in popularity due to the myriad of benefits for calf welfare compared to individual housing. Converting to pair housing is also appealing as a steppingstone to group housing, because the management transition is simpler compared to management of a large group of calves.

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This is not another article about how important fresh, clean water is for calves. Instead, this article focuses on why feeding water from day one is so vital. The "why" is rumen development and the long-term benefits for animal health and productivity.

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“Doc, what kind of milk replacer should I feed, and how much?”

As a calf ranch consultant, this is the most common question I hear. The answer depends on several factors, such as who owns the calves, how do you get paid for raising the calves and what are the objectives in raising the calves.

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The three critical periods in a calf’s life are around calving, which includes the cow and colostrum management, the first two weeks of life when most deaths occur, and the two weeks before and after weaning. The first two critical periods have been addressed in a previous article, 3 critical periods in a calf’s life: The first and second.

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What’s your dairy cow’s milkfat content? It’s an easy question, right? You likely have milkfat records from generations on your farm and could readily explain how your milk components have changed over the years or pinpoint what management and feeding practices caused reductions or increases in milkfat.

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