Prevent the challenging heifer cycle (part 1)

Posted on April 13, 2022 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy technical services A challenging heifer cycle occurs when a portion of the heifer development phase does not go as planned and results in heifers that have lower-than-expected rates of growth, lung consolidation, or increased rate of non-completion of first lactation.  The net result is often a reduced return on investment from the heifer program.

Calf care checklist: 5 ways to manage feed shrink

Posted on April 13, 2022 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Lucas Mitchell, Vita Plus calf and heifer specialist With the current state of feed prices, every penny counts and the importance of managing feed shrink in all areas of the dairy has been magnified. Here are five ways to manage feed shrink of calf feed.

Expert’s corner: Electrolytes for calves

Posted on April 13, 2022 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Megan Weisenbeck, Northern Valley Livestock Services Regardless of the cause of diarrhea, replacement of water - ideally by electrolyte solutions - is a main part of the treatment plan.  Note the phrase “replacement of water.”  The most critical part of offering electrolytes is water! 

This makes my life easier: Milk replacer scale

Posted on April 13, 2022 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
"Consistency is very important to us when it comes to our calves. To make sure they get the same solids at every feeding, we weigh the milk replacer powder and water. This stand makes that job much easier." - Healther Schuld, Hasel Farms, Lake Mills, Wisconsin

Calf chat with Lucas: Feeding water in winter

Posted on February 10, 2022 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
In this edition, Dr. Lucas Mitchell, Vita Plus dairy calf and heifer specialist, discusses water's role in calf health and growth, and suggests strategies to efficiently provide water in the winter. Visit our YouTube channel for more calf chat segments.

Protect the gut to protect the lungs

Posted on February 10, 2022 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy technical services Respiratory disease is one of the primary challenges to successful heifer calf development. Maintaining intestinal integrity (protecting the gut) appears to be one path to protecting the lungs and decreasing respiratory disease risk. Thus, one goal of calf nutrition is to maintain intestinal integrity.

Calf chat with Ann: Keeping tabs on your pasteurizer

Posted on December 17, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
In this edition, Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf program manager, walks us through two simple strategies to ensure your high-temp or batch pasteurizer is doing the job it is meant to do.

Comparison of growth rates achieved with milk and milk replacers

Posted on December 17, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy technical services specialist Studying the composition of milk solids intake and calf growth helps us better understand how our feeding program decisions impact efficiency of calf growth. Growth is dependent upon calf health, environment, nutrient intake and composition of nutrients consumed. Rarely has calf growth from milk or milk replacer nutrition been compared within the same study. In this article, I used the NRC calf growth model to calculate calf grwoth across milk replacer and milk replacer programs.

Set autofeeders to match your calf-feeding goals

Posted on October 8, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf program manager 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. When deciding on a feeding plan, think about when these calves will enter the feeder

Virtual farm tour: Pebble Knolls Dairy LLC

Posted on October 8, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
Pebble Knolls Dairy LLC in Brandon, Wisconsin, is owned and operated by Eric and Danielle Wetzel and Eric’s parents, Richard and Gail Wetzel.  Eric and Danielle’s daughter, Karsyn, began working as the farm’s calf manager three years ago.  As she learns the ins and outs of raising healthy calves, Karsyn continues the farm’s decade-long tradition of mob-feeding calves in group pens.

Calf care checklist: 3 steps for good water hygiene

Posted on October 6, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
Everyone knows water is one of six essential nutrients.  However, the magnitude of its importance is often unrealized and, in some situations, downplayed.

Virtual farm tour: Redetzkes’ No Joke Dairy, LLC

Posted on July 23, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

It’s not often that farmers completely start over on the same farm where they grew up, but that’s exactly what brothers Sam and Matt Redetzke are doing at Redetzkes’ No Joke Dairy, LLC in Stratford, Wisconsin.  In 2015, Sam and Matt decided they wanted to start milking on their family farm.  Today, they milk 190 cows and about 75% of the herd is Jerseys.

8 action items to reduce summer calf stressors

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

By Dr. Noah Litherland, dairy technical services specialist
Heat stress can have significant impacts on dairy calf health and growth.  Here are eight action items to reduce the negative impacts of summer heat.

Calf care checklist: Identifying dehydration

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

By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products manager
The earlier the better when it comes to catching dehydration in calves.  Identifying mild dehydration and fixing the problem in the early stages will save you a lot of headaches in the coming days.  Here are common signs of dehydration at different levels of severity.

This makes my life easier: Starter grain feeding log

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

Hickory Lawn Dairy in Cascade, Wisconsin, developed a technique to track starter grain intake simply and effectively by placing a piece of tape on the door of each calf hutch.  As starter grain intake increases, the calf manager circles the number of cups the calf should be fed daily. 

How to Introduce Forages to Youngstock

Posted on March 2, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Lucas Mitchell, Vita Plus calf and heifer specialist
It's a two-step process to introduce forages to calves. First, we need to "turn" them into ruminants, then we need to let them be ruminants. Forages may play a role in the first part, and they certainly play a role in the second part.