Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

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.


Editor’s note: The following article is the third in a series discussing electrolyte formulation and function in calves. Click here to read the first part, and click here to read the second in the series.

Earlier in this series, we saw that strong ions fully dissociate from other substances when they dissolve in water. This dissociation not only affects the electrolyte solution being fed to the calf, it also has profound effects within the animal itself.

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Editor’s note: The following article is the second in a series discussing electrolyte formulation and function in calves. Click here to read the first article in the series.

A curious thing about electrolyte ingredients is that even though they are listed on the label, many of them don’t end up in the solution we feed to the calf. There is no sodium chloride. There is no sodium bicarbonate, or sodium acetate, calcium lactate, potassium chloride or a number of other ingredients.

So ... what happens to them? It’s actually quite simple. They dissociate, or separate into their basic components when they dissolve in water – or any aqueous medium such as blood plasma and other body fluids.

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The health and viability of a newborn calf immediately impacts your profit. Caring for cows prior to calving and at calving time requires patience, keen attention, time, labor and expenses. There are few ways around this, and attention must be paid toward multiple aspects of management to get a new calf off to the right start.

With advanced technologies and research that helps us understand how best to use these technologies, there are actually ways that labor can be reduced while, at the same time, reducing health risk and increasing the protection a newborn calf has against life-threatening diseases.

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Editor’s note: The following article is the first in a series discussing electrolyte formulation and function in calves.

Electrolyte comparisons show up in articles and publications from time to time, and are typically based on information found on the label of each product. Although probably unintentional, these comparisons usually contain a fair amount of incorrect or misleading information.

These profiles may be convenient and are intended to be informative, but caution needs to be exercised when using these comparisons.

To begin, the product profiles in these comparisons use values calculated from the actual numbers of molecules of the different ingredients that make up each electrolyte product. What?!

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The investment made in young heifers today lays the groundwork for future herd performance and profitability. Heifers are a group of animals that may be overlooked at a time of tight margins.

However, when their needs go unmet, growth, health and, ultimately, lifetime production can all be negatively impacted. The long-term consequences of cutting expenses in the heifer pen are a huge price to pay for small reductions in rearing costs.

There are producers doing it right – investing in their heifer pens for earlier breeding and calving, leading to greater milk production. Raising heifers to their potential is something Aardema Dairy of Wendell, Idaho, has valued in an effort to achieve optimal herd performance, starting with their young calves.

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Raising healthy calves is one of the most important facets to a dairy’s success. Emphasis should be placed on calf housing as one of the key elements in managing overall calf health. In this roundtable, three calf raisers from across the country talk about how their investment in calf housing influences their ability to manage the overall health, comfort, hygiene and transitions of their calves.

Meet the panelists:
• Justin Ball, owner and calf manager, Deer Creek Feeding, LLC in Dalhart, Texas

• Doug Welker, manager, Lakeshore Dairy in Wilson, New York

• Joel Sutter, herdsman, Fertile Ridge Dairy in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin

Q. Tell us about your operation.

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