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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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Milk fever is a disorder affecting about 6 percent of dairy cows each year in the United States. Subclinical milk fever, defined as blood calcium (Ca) concentration falling below 8 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), occurs in up to 50 percent of older cows during the days immediately following calving. The decline in blood calcium concentration near calving represents a breakdown in the calcium homeostatic mechanisms of the body. Blood Ca in the adult cow is maintained around 8.5 to 10 mg/dl. There are 3 grams Ca in the plasma pool and only 8 to 9 grams Ca in all the extracellular fluids (outside of bone) of a 1,300-pound cow. The fluid within the canaliculi of bone may contain another 6 to 15 grams Ca; the size of this Ca pool being dependent on the acid-base status of the animal (larger during acidosis and smaller during alkalosis).

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So often in veterinary medicine, as in other medical fields, we are looking for diagnostic tests to aid in treatment and to prognosticate for various diseases. Both infectious and noninfectious diseases may be diagnosed by detecting the causative agent, clinical signs, pathological changes, biochemical changes or surrogate evidence of past or present exposure to an agent (antibody).

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What causes calf scours? As new calves arrive, so does the threat of the common condition known as calf scours or neonatal calf diarrhea. Infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria cause this condition. These agents have the common property of causing a net loss of water and electrolytes from the calf’s body via the gut. This causes potentially life-threatening dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that can easily result in death. The main infectious organisms that can cause diarrhea in calves are:

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The goal for management when feeding dairy replacement heifers is to produce high-quality replacement heifers at a low cost. It is difficult to detail all of the business and biological aspects of developing information-based quality control management programs for dairy replacements in this article; therefore, the following key control points will be offered.

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Cow comfort has a direct impact on daily health and milk production. Rick Grant and other scientists at the Miner Institute in New York have studied the daily routine of high-producing dairy cows housed in a freestall barn. By combining this information with what we know about improving cow comfort, we can better manage our herds to improve profitability.

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It is always easier to achieve a goal when working with biology, rather than against it. By taking advantage of important characteristics of bacterial growth, we can better achieve our goal of feeding clean colostrum.

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