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Peruse practical information for the dairy producer on essential topics including management, A.I. and breeding, new technology, and feed and nutrition.

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Raising replacement heifers is often looked upon as a major cost on the farm without a return on the investment until the animal begins its first lactation. As a result, heifers are often fed the cheapest feed available with minimum inputs on facilities and labor until they approach the time of calving. Efforts to improve management and nutrition of the dairy replacement heifer, in order to decrease the age at first calving, have been labeled as an “accelerated heifer growth program.”

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Replacements are an investment in the future of a dairy, and they are significant, often representing 15 to 20 percent of the total cost of milk production, which is second only to dairy feed costs. The likelihood of a positive payoff on those investments is dramatically improved when the management team has a system in place that generates quality heifers.

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Most calf deaths are attributed to infectious disease such as scours, septicemia, pneumonia. However, non-infectious problems cause most of the losses in the first two to three days, and these problems greatly increase the risk of later infectious disease problems, if they do not kill the calf right away. Management practices aimed at identifying and resolving these early problems are the most direct and cost-effective way to improve calf health.

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Forage neutral detergent fiber (NDF) is retained in the rumen longer and is therefore more filling than other feed components. Rumen fill can limit feed intake, especially for high-producing cows and cows fed high forage diets. There is great variation in the filling effects of forage fiber because of differences in digestion characteristics; forage fiber that digests and passes from the rumen quickly is less filling than forage fiber that digests and passes more slowly.

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Cows need lots of water when temperatures outside get warmer.

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Imagine a dairy cow that gave 15,000 liters (33,000 pounds) of high-quality milk year after year after year at a high level of efficiency, a cow whose milk had health benefits for the consumer, a cow that got in calf when you wanted her to; a cow that was highly resistant to infections such as mastitis and whose milk had a consistently low somatic cell count, a cow that never suffered from acidosis and a cow that was never lame. Now imagine a herd of such cows, and imagine how profitable it would be.

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