MIdwest beef market snapshot

Posted on October 6, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
It has been a tough year for many farmers in the Upper Midwest. We have seen areas of extreme drought (especially here in Minnesota), severe weather that has damaged crops and other crop health issues. As a result, our markets are still going through their ups and downs.

Team culture: The greatest competitive advantage

Posted on July 22, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By John Tramburg, Vita Plus vice president operations
How you practice defines how you play.  How you feel defines how you perform.  Culture can be described as the feeling we have about different aspects of our lives. How does culture affect a business?  Significantly.

Virtual Farm Tour: Kuehl Family Farms

Posted on June 3, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

Like many students across the U.S., Nathan and Anthony Kuehl were thrust into the world of virtual learning in the spring of 2020 as COVID-19 closed in-person classrooms.  The boys chose to make lemonade from the sour situation and seized an opportunity to develop their farming and entrepreneurship skills.

The Importance of Continuous Employee Development

Posted on June 3, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Scott Schwefel, Discover Yourself, Inc. CEO, CSP
Imagine going to the hospital and learning that the doctors hadn’t received any training since their first day on the job - would you stay?  Continual employee training to stay up to date in job skills, new technology and new processes is absolutely vital for every business. 

7 Ways to Save Money on Calf Starter – Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus

Posted on August 24, 2018 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products manager
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.

Vita Plus Calf Summit Preconference Farm School: Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy

Posted on June 28, 2018 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy in Kewaunee, Wisconsin is the largest family-owned dairy farm in Wisconsin.  They milk 5,400 cows and raise around 3,300 calves at their calf ranch.  Attendees of the Vita Plus Calf Summit Preconference Farm School had the opportunity to tour different areas of the farm and learn from members of the Pagel's team and other industry experts.

Trends and opportunities in calf and heifer rearing costs – Dr. Matt Akins, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Posted on June 28, 2018 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Jenna Hurty-Person, Progressive Dairyman
Minimizing heifer raising costs without sacrificing heifer quality can be a challenge for dairies.  Akins shared some heifer rearing opportunities he sees to improve current practices.

The Calf That Knew Her Cost of Gain

Posted on April 25, 2018 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock specialist
Feed cost per pound of gain is an important metric to know how to calculate and manipulate to optimize the value of your nursery calf feeding program.  Luckily, it is easy to calculate, if you know the right numbers.

Growing Heifers to Reach Puberty Earlier has Benefits

Posted on December 26, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus dairy technical specialist, and Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist Puberty in dairy heifers can be defined as a measurable increase in blood progesterone with the presence of a corpus luteum (CL) on an ovary, and heifers begin active cycling.   Dairy heifers reach puberty at a defined

Fast Fact: How Much Bedding Do My Calves Need?

Posted on December 26, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist Question:  How Much Bedding Do My Calves Need? Answer:  Visually evaluate feet, knees and outer thighs of calves daily.  If all three areas are clean, the goal of keeping calves clean and dry has been met. A bit more:  Clean and dry calves are a

Beyond the Barn: Have a Plan When Growing Heifers

Posted on December 26, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist
Heifer weight at calving is an important determinant of first lactation performance.  Our goal is to achieve 82 percent of mature size to achieve 80 percent of mature cow milk yield.  Having a plan and setting benchmarks for heifer growth and development is key to successful replacement heifer development.  The list below summarizes phases of growth and target weight at the end of each growth phase, as well as important highlights and factors that affect growth in each phase.

Bulk Calf Starter Storage: Ask These 6 Questions – Jeff Winkler and Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

Posted on August 23, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Jeff Winkler, Vita Plus operations leader, and Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist
Calf raisers on operations of all sizes are looking at bulk calf starter storage.  Bulk calf starter has some advantages over bagged starter, including decreased price per ton (no bagging costs), no empty bags to deal with, and the convenience of bulk starter available right there on your farm.  Here are some key questions to ask as you consider construction of on-farm starter grain storage structures. 

Beyond the Barn: Involve These 3 People in Farm Transfer – Gary Sipiorski, Vita Plus

Posted on June 20, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Gary Sipiorski, Vita Plus dairy development manager
Transferring a dairy farm to the next generation can be complicated.  No one wants to make it difficult, but the process involves many details.  Written terms and agreements must be done properly. 

Help is out there to assist with a farm transfer of any type.  Each farm and family is different.  Three key people should be involved in the process, which will take a year or more to complete depending on the assets and complexity.

VIDEO: A Day in the Life of a Calf Raiser – Calf Barn Tour with Jonathon Hallock, MarBec Dairy

Posted on April 20, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

In this segment of A Day in the Life of a Calf Raiser, Jonathon Hallock, MarBec Dairy, explains the decision-making process that led to the construction of the farm's four-row calf barn.

Are we keeping too many replacements? – Cal Greenfield, Hilltop Dairy, LLC, Lee Meinholz, Blue Star Dairy (Middleton), Dr. Greg Bethard, Pagel Family Businesses

Posted on June 29, 2016 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

For most farms, keeping every replacement heifer probably doesn’t make the most sense.  However, deciding which and how many heifers to sell is different for every farm and depends on the goals you have for your operation.  During a panel discussion at Vita Plus Calf Summit, three producers shared their strategies for the heifer program.

Heifer rearing cost: Critical control points – Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus

Posted on June 29, 2016 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Progressive Dairyman Editor Peggy Coffeen
When it comes to raising heifers, cutting costs is challenging because 60 percent of the total expense is feed. While feed costs are quite volatile, costs can be controlled at a few places in heifer rearing.