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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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Intrigued by the possibility of building a better heifer? Want to develop your herd’s potential? If you answered, “Yes,” your next question probably is, “What will it cost?” Will you really get some bang for your buck (i.e., milk in the tank)?

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The National Animal Health and Monitoring System (NAHMS) has conducted three surveys in 1991, 1996, and 2002, of U.S. dairies that includes information on health and management practices involving dairy calves. The pre-weaning mortality rates ranged from 8.4 to 10.8 percent in these surveys.

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Production agriculture is unique because raising replacement animals is a normal part of day-to-day business operations and is an operating expense. The replacements are an asset on the balance sheet and for most dairies become the primary productive asset of the business.

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Simply putting cows out to pasture during their dry period is a thing of the past. Today’s dairy needs a dry cow management program to ensure healthy cows and consequently, healthy calves.

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On some dairy operations dry cows are “out of sight, out of mind.” While it’s important to keep the dry period as uneventful as possible, we still need to monitor dry cow activity to ensure cows have every opportunity to calve successfully and begin profitable lactations.

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Preventative and low-level (feed) use of antibiotics in food animals have been incriminated as causes for antibiotic resistance in human pathogens. As a result of this concern, the European Commission has banned low-level feeding of antibiotics to cattle for growth promotion or disease prevention.

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