7 signs calves are headed down a bad health path

Posted on April 25, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Ann Hoskins
Many calves show subtle signs of sickness before it becomes clinical. The “look, listen, smell and feel” strategy will help you identify those calves much earlier and can be used in all calf-raising systems. The key is to closely observe calves in the moment without making assumptions or overlooking small signs.

The Right Focus: Vita Plus Dairy Summit 2017 Recap

Posted on January 8, 2018 in Dairy Performance

More than 330 dairy producers, Vita Plus consultants and industry peers came together December 6 and 7 for Vita Plus Dairy Summit 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin.  Follow the links in this post to access full event coverage, including speakers' PowerPoint presentations, articles, videos and more.

Making the Old Barn New Again – Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus

Posted on October 2, 2017 in Dairy Performance

By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator
Before you decide to turn that old dairy barn into a calf barn, you should do some research.  An old barn may provide more warmth and protection from the elements for calves and caretakers.  But consider calf flow, ventilation, sanitation, ease of feeding, and the overall health benefits and risks before you begin renovations.

Top 10 factors limiting nursery calf group feeding systems

Posted on July 5, 2017 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist
Automated calf feeding systems continue to increase in popularity throughout the upper Midwest despite little uniformity in facility design, feeding method, and performance across farms and no industry-wide accepted model to balance facility performance and cost. 

Feeding to win (Part 2)

Posted on July 8, 2016 in Dairy Performance

By Nick Uglow
As I mentioned in the first article of this series, following the same management practices as in a commercial setting - keeping calves clean and dry in a facility with proper ventilation, offering clean water, and managing them in a consistent manner - will keep the fair-prospect calf, in any barn, on par with the desired growth. 

Feeding to win (Part 1)

Posted on July 7, 2016 in Dairy Performance

By Nick Uglow
“There she is!” you think to yourself. 

“She” is that special heifer born the first week of September, who happens to be a couple inches taller than the older August heifers rooming in the same place as her. The daughter of the giant brood cow is easily spotted when pushing up feed to the headlocks.  This heifer would be the perfect candidate to take to the county fair for this year’s 4-H project.

Manage dairy heifer feed cost control points

Posted on March 2, 2016 in Dairy Performance

By Pat Hoffman
With the cycle of lower milk prices upon us, we are often asked how to control feed costs, including the cost of feeding dairy heifers. 

Estimating feed intake of dairy heifers: A quick discussion

Posted on November 20, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Pat Hoffman Estimating feed intake (dry matter intake) of dairy heifers is an important part of dairy heifer nutrition, but there is a little catch and a trick to get it close. Many of us use heifer bodyweight to estimate feed intake of dairy heifers.  Bodyweight-based heifer feed intake equations “sort of” work, but

It’s time to prepare for winter calf care

Posted on October 19, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Augusta Hagen A hard frost and cooler temperatures mean winter will be here before we know it. The thermal-neutral zone for a calf under 3 weeks of age is 59 to 78 degrees F.  When temperatures dip below 59 degrees, the calf can start to experience cold stress and not grow as efficiently as

Maintaining heifer performance in cold stress

Posted on January 8, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Pat Hoffman We're all feeling the immense chill right now, especially as we're out working with animals.  We place particular focus on young calves as changes in feeding and management are required to help calves not only survive, but also grow to their potential despite the temperature outside. What we might now focus on

Because they can’t wear ski jackets and snow pants

Posted on February 1, 2013 in Dairy Performance
By Ann Hoskins It’s cold out there.  No doubt about it.  Your calves are noticing it too. Just like you put on multiple layers of clothing before you head outside in the winter, your calves need to “bundle up” when it gets cold. What’s more, their “winter outfits” need to be dry and clean to

Optimize heifer performance with TMR management

Posted on December 2, 2011 in Dairy Performance
By Cody Yanzick Calf raisers invest a lot of time and energy into optimizing calf performance.  Good feed management with young heifers can help to keep that momentum going as calves get older.  Here are a few tips for introducing, feeding and monitoring heifer TMRs. Choose the right size mixer. Most calf raisers mix small

Do autofeeders fit?

Posted on September 29, 2011 in Dairy Performance
By Ann Hoskins Automatic calf feeders are popping up on many dairy operations across the Midwest.  The new technology offers plenty of opportunities, but it also requires a refocus on management.  The decision of whether autofeeders fit your calf program needs to be made only after careful consideration of how the opportunities and challenges will