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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.

LATEST

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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From birth, calves’ naïve immune systems are assaulted by challenges: new environments, fast diet transitions, exposure to disease and sometimes transportation and commingling. That makes it no surprise the dairy industry continues to battle pre-weaning losses.

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Over the last 10 years, the dairy industry has shown an increased interest in early life feeding programs for calves, spurred in part by several studies and meta-analyses illustrating the potential effect of greater pre-weaning average daily gain on future milk production.

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