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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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The topic of “intensified feeding or accelerated growth” has garnered a great deal of discussion, and the concept has been applied in both research and on-farm trials in various ways. Much of this discussion involves differences in perspectives about how to best manage the nutrition and nutrient intake and weaning of the calf.

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Typically, in the fall you read articles about increasing the amount of milk replacer to feed to calves. The typical recommendations come from the National Research Council (NRC) predictions for the increased calorie demands for calves under cold stress. While these recommendations are correct, they are also incorrect.

In 2007, a detailed set of research trials were published in the Professional Animal Scientist Journal. In these trials, calves were fed different amounts and types of milk replacers in different trials conducted in the winter months (temperatures shown in Table 1*). The calves were housed in naturally ventilated barns with no added heat. Bedding material was also compared. Calves were deep-bedded with dried hardwood shavings or wheat straw.

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The goal of a calf-rearing program should be to optimize growth and health while minimizing risk and cost.

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Usually it isn’t too difficult to identify challenges in our industry; talk to just about anyone and the conversation will probably generate a list of woes.

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The onset of stress is often an opportunity for infection and disease that can ultimately have significant health consequences.

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It’s almost impossible to talk about heifer nutrition without focusing on rising input costs.

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