Winter calf barn ventilation

Posted on February 14, 2022 in Dairy Performance
By Barry Visser Temperature fluctuations this winter have presented challenges for calf raisers across the Midwest and many farms have seen an uptick in respiratory issues. Many calf barns rely on natural ventilation to provide clean, fresh air to the calves. This works well in the summertime; however, as doors, windows and curtains are closed in the winter, providing sufficient air exchanges to keep calves healthy can be challenging.

Controlling birds and their mess

Posted on December 31, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Jarrod Blackburn
Many different species of birds make a dairy farm “home” in the cooler months, posing a risk to the health of livestock and people as well as the farm’s bottom line.  Birds are drawn to farms because of the continuous supply of fresh feed and seek the energy-dense components of the feedstuffs or ration.  This loss of nutrients consumed by birds can greatly impact the nutrients that cattle are able to eat, thus directly impacting a producer’s bottom line.  In addition, birds are associated with the spread and amplification of microbiological hazards, including E. coli, Salmonella, and many others that can have lasting impacts in dairy herds. 

Sizing up your forage future

Posted on December 17, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Nathan Hrnicek
If you are deciding to build a new forage storage site, such as a pile or bunker, it is important to consider the space required for these structures, the amount of forage you need at the present time and in the future, and your desired feedout rate.  Additionally, adding adequate apron space is another component often overlooked.

Farm feature: Hilltop Dairy LLC has decades’ tradition of ‘good-looking, good-producing cows’

Posted on September 24, 2020 in Dairy Performance

The owners of Hilltop Dairy LLC in Markesan, Wisconsin, have had a passion for registered Holstein cattle and “good-looking, good-producing cows” for decades.  That tradition continues to be front-and-center on the 1,400-cow dairy today.

Any heat stress abatement is better than nothing

Posted on June 30, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Andy Kniesly
After just a few hot days, it is not uncommon to see milk production losses of 5 to 15 pounds of milk per cow day. That might be just the tip of the iceberg as heat stress can lead to a long list of other animal health and performance consequences. A lot of factors go into designing heat abatement systems for dairies, which require a solid understanding of your facilities and environment.  Here are some very common areas that we can focus on to help us prioritize where to start.

VIDEO: Spring Ventilation and Air Quality for Calves

Posted on April 7, 2020 in Dairy Performance

With Dr. Noah Litherland
In the most recent edition of Starting Strong Calf Chat, Dr. Noah Litherland reminds calf raisers of three goals of ventilation:  (1)  provide adequate amounts of clean air to the calf, (2) prevent drafts on the calf, and (3) manage the temperature and humidity in the barn.

Watch the video for tips to optimize the calf environment during spring's fluctuating temperatures and damp weather.

Survey results: Optimizing robot IOFC

Posted on February 6, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Eliza Ruzic and Pat Hoffman
As robotic milking systems continue to gain interest and adoption, dairy producers are looking at the economics associated with the technology.  Producers often ask us, “What truly influences milk production on a robotic dairy?  Do pellet characteristics influence visits and milk production?  Does the energy density of the partially mixed ration (PMR) affect milk production?”

Waves of Change: Vita Plus Dairy Summit Recap

Posted on January 30, 2020 in Dairy Performance

During Vita Plus Dairy Summit in December, attendees explored many “waves of change” in the dairy industry.  If you did not attend the event – or did attend and are looking for a refresher – browse the topics in this post to access the full event e-news.

5 summer calf ventilation checkpoints

Posted on May 30, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Ann Hoskins
If you haven't already, now is the time for routine maintenance on your calf facility ventilation system.  Good air quality goes a long way in promoting calf health.  Plus, an efficiently working ventilation system saves dollars on your bottom line.

Safely warm newborn calves

Posted on January 3, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Noah Litherland
Every one of us in the dairy industry has an inborn fondness for cattle, and value newborn calves and the promise they bring. Let’s get wise about thermal support for our calves in the first 24 hours of their lives during cold weather.

Internal parasite control

Posted on October 26, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Barry Visser
Dairy cattle behavior and appearance often make it easy to detect external parasites like flies, mange and lice. Severe internal parasite infiltrations can result in roughness of hair coat, anemia, edema and diarrhea. However, the subclinical impact of internal parasites is largely hidden, yet costly. According to a recent study at Iowa State University, undetected subclinical disease caused by internal parasites can cost $190 per animal.

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.

‘Avalanche!’ – A word we don’t want to hear you say

Posted on February 15, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Michelle Windle
Many farms have a limited amount of space on the feed pad to store their homegrown forages.  This leads some producers to store multiple crops in close proximity.  January and February mark the time of year when many producers move from one crop to another.  Although avalanches can occur in a wide array of situations, it is especially common to see an avalanche at the interface between two crops.  This creates a dangerous situation.

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.