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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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It’s one of those moments on the dairy that makes all the stress and worry dissipate. As the still damp newborn heifer tries once, twice and finally succeeds on the third attempt to stand, there’s an overwhelming feeling of hope and optimism for the future.

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Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in both pre- and post-weaned calves can be a major challenge. The latest National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) study conducted in 2014 found 11.3% of enrolled pre-weaned dairy calves showed clinical signs of BRD, of which 88% were treated with an antibiotic.

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Drafts and pre-weaned calves – rarely is a topic so misunderstood. Many calf raisers are uncomfortable with the topic of drafts on calves, regardless of the outside temperature. Most people believe drafts are to be avoided at all costs.

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Feeding calves high rates of milk replacer is common practice in many parts of the U.S. High milk replacer feeding rates have resulted in increased pre-weaning average daily gain (ADG). Improved feed efficiency has also been observed, most likely due to the greater digestibility of liquid feed compared to calf starter.

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When it comes to raising healthy, vigorous calves, Mohamed ElSheikh, DVM, feed department and calf manager at North Florida Holsteins in Bell, Florida, believes it all comes back to management.

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Successful management of calves is all about the details that add up to create a healthy, profitable member of the milking herd. Beyond excessive heat, summer weather provides an environment that can challenge our calves with increased humidity, favorable conditions for pests and pathogens, and a higher incidence of disease due to these factors.

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