7 considerations when formulating the heifer’s first TMR

Posted on April 13, 2022 in Dairy Performance
By Dr. Lucas Mitchell On many farms, a TMR presents an effective and efficient way to provide heifers with a complete and balanced ration.  However, if formulated improperly, TMRs can be detrimental to heifer growth and development.  Put the following seven concepts to work to ensure effective formulation of the heifer’s first TMR.

What do you do when maternal colostrum runs short?

Posted on December 29, 2021 in Dairy Performance
By Ann Hoskins Maternal colostrum is a high-value asset on your farm. Unfortunately, that asset often runs short this time of year as many farms see a slump in colostrum production between November and February. Farms need to have a “plan B” in place as they don’t want to short calves on this vital nutrition.

Set autofeeders to match your calf-feeding goals

Posted on October 13, 2021 in Dairy Performance
All the settings of an autofeeder work together and one change can affect the others.  Program the machine so that milk volume, minimum and maximum limitations, and concentration match your calf-feeding strategy.

How to introduce forages to youngstock

Posted on June 14, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Lucas Mitchell
I am often asked, “How should forages be introduced to youngstock?”   My answer:  "It depends."

When we are raising calves, I think it is important to recognize this as a two-step process.  Step 1: Turn them into ruminants.  Step 2: Let them be ruminants.  Forages may play a role in step 1 and they certainly play a role in step 2.

5 ways a calf says she’s getting the right amount of milk

Posted on March 15, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Lucas Mitchell
Similar to how we rely on the lactating herd’s performance to indicate if something is working or not, if we pay attention to how the calves are performing, they will show us if they are receiving too much, too little, or just the right amount of milk.

When maternal colostrum runs short

Posted on November 13, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Ann Hoskins
Maternal colostrum is a high-value asset on your farm.  Unfortunately, that asset often runs short this time of year as many farms see a slump in colostrum production between November and February.  Farms need to have a “plan B” in place as they don’t want to short calves on this vital nutrition.

Build your own colostrum thawing and heating unit

Posted on October 27, 2020 in Dairy Performance

Refrigerating or freezing excess high-quality colostrum (greater than 22% Brix reading) is a great way to ensure each newborn calf receives this vital nutrition at birth.  Because high temperatures can destroy immunoglobulins (IgGs) and other nutrients, colostrum should be carefully thawed and warmed before feeding it to the calf.  Producers can easily build their own colostrum thawing and heating unit to accomplish this task by following these simple steps.

Grow heifers BEFORE calving

Posted on June 9, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Barry Visser
The goal of most heifer replacement programs is to raise high-quality, healthy heifers in an efficient and economical manner.  Bodyweight of a heifer at the time of first calving is a proxy for growth and size. If heifers have not reached the desired size at calving, they will continue to grow during lactation. This is much less efficient and happens at the expense of milk production.

5 Things You Should Know About Prebiotics and Probiotics

Posted on August 21, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Jenn Rowntree, Vita Plus calf and heifer specialist
Both pre- and probiotics have shown the ability to resist invasion of harmful pathogens by preventing them from binding to cells in the GIT or binding directly to (and subsequently destroying) these invading pathogens. They can help improve the gastrointestinal tract environment for ingestion and digestion, thus increasing feed efficiency, and improve the overall immune system by regulating gut barrier function.  Most companies involved in animal health, reproduction, and nutrition have added a variety of prebiotic and/or probiotic products to their portfolios in recent years. Let’s explore some common questions about these feed additives.

Maintain heifer health through temperature swings

Posted on April 18, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Noah Litherland
While we enjoy spring's warmer weather, this is usually a stressful season for calves and heifers.  Increased ambient temperature during the day, increased humidity, and cooler nights have clear impacts on heifer intakes and health.  Coccidiosis and respiratory challenges are common due to fluctuating temperatures and environmental stress.

Prevent the pain of frostbite for calves

Posted on February 6, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Jenn Rowntree
We're likely to see more bitter cold temperatures yet this winter.  Unless frostbite is caught and treated early, the results are often permanent and detrimental.  With limited treatment options, prevention of frostbite is the best strategy.

5 questions to ask your vet

Posted on January 29, 2019 in Dairy Performance

When was the last time you and your herd veterinarian spent time together with calves?  Even if the calves are healthy, your veterinarian should still be involved in the development of calf management practices.  Here are five questions to ask your herd veterinarian to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of your calf-rearing program.

Balance milk and starter feeding for efficient calf growth

Posted on November 13, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Zach Sawall
A calf is born with a sterile rumen environment void of bacteria, protozoa and fungi.  Microbes in the gut populate slowly at first, but speed up over time.  This process of developing the calf into a ruminant is one of the main goals of the nursery phase.  If a calf consumes more than 0.4 pounds of fat from milk, starter grain intake begins to be suppressed.  Therefore, to maximize starter grain intake, a balanced milk feeding program should accompany a quality starter grain. 

Wise investments in heifer raising

Posted on August 8, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Cody Yanzick and Ann Hoskins
Calves are naturally herd animals, but, on many farms, the transition period is the first time they are grouped with others, bringing about a set of challenges that need specialized attention.  Limiting stress on calves can offer some of the greatest paybacks in terms of health and performance.

Vita Plus Calf Summit 2018 Recap

Posted on July 9, 2018 in Dairy Performance

More than 175 calf raisers, Vita Plus consultants and industry peers came together June 20 and 21 for Vita Plus Calf Summit 2018 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Follow the links in this post to access full event coverage, including speakers' PowerPoint presentations, articles and more.

7 ways to save calf starter dollars

Posted on May 24, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Ann Hoskins
The best way to save on calf starter without sacrificing growth and performance is to limit waste. These seven steps can help you save money on calf starter.