Calf Care Checklist: Benchmark Calf and Heifer Health

Posted on February 19, 2018 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Jenn Rowntree, Vita Plus dairy calf and heifer specialist
Setting goals in specific areas for your farm's calf and heifer health, and regularly comparing health events to those goals, can help determine if they are being met.

Virtual Farm Tour: Prairie Dairy

Posted on December 27, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

Rachelle Krienke has two major goals for her calves:  She wants them to be as healthy as possible and she wants to see good body condition at weaning.  She has designed a system that allows her to consistently reach both goals for her farm’s replacement heifers.

Veterinarian’s Corner: Impact of Waste Milk Quality on Calf Health and Performance

Posted on December 27, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Jeremy Schefers, University of Minnesota, and Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist
Quality and hygiene are important considerations when feeding waste milk to nursery calves.  Benefits of on-farm pasteurization include reduced diarrhea and respiratory disease.  Proper pasteurization also kills Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (responsible for Johne’s disease), Salmonella and Mycoplasma, if present in milk. 

Nutritional Needs in Calf’s First 10 Days

Posted on December 26, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator The first days of a calf’s life set the stage for its health and performance as it grows. Day 1 Colostrum is a loaded first meal for the young calf.  Calves require fat and protein for energy and muscle development in the first days of life, as

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

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.

Lactose: Too Much of a Good Thing? – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

Posted on October 25, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist
Less is known about lactose digestion than protein or fat digestion in calves.  We do know that, in all mammalian species studied, lactose alters the function of both the large and small intestine.

Fast Fact: What Is the Correct Angle for Bottle-feeding Calves? – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

Posted on October 25, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist
The goal is to allow the calf to nurse comfortably with its nose below its eyes.  The angles, heights, and depths of your pails and grain troughs can also impact intakes.

Regional Report: Minnesota – Greg Wiener, Vita Plus

Posted on October 25, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Greg Wiener, Vita Plus dairy specialist
This fall's terrible swings in weather have led to many challenges in calves less than two weeks old, and most of those challenges revolve around cleanliness.

Why Is That in My Milk Replacer? – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

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

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist
Have you ever found yourself reading a milk replacer tag and trying to understand what additives are included, what those additives do and whether or not they are right for your calf program?

Calf Care Quick Tip: Caffeine for Calves – Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus

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

By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator
Using 5-hour ENERGY® for a calf can be the quick-pick-me-up a calf needs.

Top 10 Factors Limiting Nursery Calf Group Feeding Systems – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

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

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. 

My opinion is that the technology in automated calf feeders is quite good, however, many farms still struggle to manage calves in groups.  We have identified 10 common factors limiting group feeding systems, and suggest some strategies to correct these shortcomings and monitor success. 

Choose Right: Colostrum Supplements and Replacers – Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus

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

By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator
Colostrum management is a detailed process and management protocols lead to great success.  Whether you adhere to these protocols determines whether this is a make-it-or-break-it event in a calf’s life.

For example, what do you do if you don’t have the high-quality colostrum your calves need?  You need a back-up plan, and colostrum replacers and supplements can be a useful tool to give calves the best start possible. 

Transition: Think Like a Heifer – Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus

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

By Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus dairy technical specialist
It’s easy to get lost in the details of ration formulation and calving protocols when preparing dairy heifers for their first lactation, but these are not the only important aspects of a successful heifer transition program. 

Calf Care Quick Tip: Filter Milk for Pasteurizing – Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus

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

By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator
Organic matter in milk will significantly compromise a pasteurizer's effectiveness.  If your pasteurizer does not have an inline filtering system, use a screen to filter the milk going into the pasteurizer tank.

The Importance of NDF in Constructing Dairy Heifer Diets – Dr. Wayne Coblentz, USDA-ARS, and Dr. Matt Akins, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

By Dr. Wayne Coblentz, USDA-ARS, and Dr. Matt Akins, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The goal of management programs for dairy replacement heifers is to consistently rear heifers at a low economic and environmental cost without compromising their future performance as lactating cows.

Generally, this can be accomplished with forage-based diets, but a key to success is understanding the role of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) in regulating both the energy density as well as the voluntary intake of diets consumed by dairy heifers.