Beyond the Barn: Predicting Calf Starter Usage – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

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

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist
Estimating starter grain needs for your calf operation can be challenging.  For most farms, starter intake averages around 1.2 to 1.8 pounds per day for the 60-day nursery phase.  Starter intake increases as calves get older and typically peaks at 5 to 7 pounds at 60 days for Holstein calves.  Additional factors – such as surges in calving intensity, amount of starter grain shrink during rainy periods if calves are fed in pails outside, and the amount of starter grain fed to transition calves – all increase the complexity of estimating calf starter grain usage and inventory. 

We developed a simple Calf Starter Usage Calculator to help take some of the guesswork out of estimating the amount of calf starter needed.

Fast Fact: How much water does a calf excrete? – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

Posted on December 21, 2016 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist

Question:  How much water does a calf excrete?

Quick answer:  Calves between 35 and 42 days of age excrete between 4.6 and 9.8 pounds of urine per day, depending on the plane of nutrition fed.

A bit more...

Feeding More Milk Without Sacrificing Starter Grain Intake – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

Posted on December 21, 2016 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist
The success of a nursery calf program can be measured by achieving optimal health and growth in the first half of the nursery phase, and developing a fully functional rumen in the second half.  One of the many reasons these goals aren’t always achieved is insufficient starter grain intake.

Fast Fact: Water for Starter Intake – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

Posted on November 21, 2016 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist

Question:  How much water is needed to digest 1 pound of starter grain?

Quick answer:  It is estimated that 4 to 5 pounds of water are required to digest 1 pound of starter grain.

A bit more...

TMR Evaluations of Heifer Diets – Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus

Posted on August 26, 2016 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus technology specialist
A simple way to improve your heifer growth efficiency, as well as minimize the costs of your heifer diets, is to evaluate your TMR mixer. This starts with physically inspecting the TMR mixer for proper weighing and mixing.

Dairy replacement nutrition: What we have learned in the last five years – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

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

Just as you need a solid foundation with a good blue print to build a house, you need a sound starter program to successfully raise calves. A good starter program will not only give your calves the best start to production, but will also reflect well on you as a producer.

Transition heifer nutrition – Cody Yanzick, Vita Plus

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

We tend to see greater emphasis put on calf and cow nutrition while heifers are pushed to the back of the mind. Although many consider a good, early start and maintaining production later on most important, nutrition during the transition period is what helps prepare the cow for long-term production.

Ask the Expert: How Has Calf Raising Changed During Your Career? – Dr. Ken Nordlund, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Posted on April 28, 2016 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Ken Nordlund, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine clinical professor emeritus

Question:  How has calf raising changed during your career?

Answer:  I worked as a dairy veterinarian in private practice in Minnesota for 12 years then as a professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 25 years. While lots of things have come and gone, three items that have big impacts for the good of dairy calves are more milk, fresher air, and better drainage.  

Energy Intake Has Clear Impacts on Immune Function – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

Posted on February 17, 2016 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist
The immune system needs fuel to function normally and protect the calf from pathogens.  The first few weeks of life and the weaning period are two key times when energy intake is often limited, resulting in reduced efficiency of immune function. 

Estimating Feed Intake of Dairy Heifers: A Quick Discussion – Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus

Posted on October 28, 2015 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Pat Hoffman, Vita Plus dairy technical specialist 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

Ask the Expert: How Does Water Quality Impact My Calves? – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

Posted on October 28, 2015 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist Question:  How do I interpret my water test results and what impact do these results have on my calves? Answer:  A few weeks ago, I received an email from a calf grower struggling with calf health and growth.  The consultant collected a water sample and

Regional Calf Report: Indiana – Bryan Knoper, Vita Plus

Posted on October 28, 2015 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Bryan Knoper, Vita Plus dairy specialist Calf raising trends in the Indiana market area have changed greatly in the past several years. It seems, when accelerated growth milk replacers were introduced, many producers adopted this new technology and were pleased with the early growth they could clearly identify without even weighing or measuring the

Ask the Expert: Why Is Starter Grain Important? – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

Posted on August 27, 2015 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist Question:  Why is starter grain important for dairy calves? Answer: Develop rumen tissue important for absorption of microbial end-products of fermentation (VFA).  Calves are only monogastrics for a short few weeks after birth and then start developing a fully functional rumen, which will serve as

Mix MIlk Right to Maximize Nutrition – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

Posted on June 25, 2015 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist The summer months have no shortage of activities and projects on the farm, which makes it easy to forget the details as we rush from one task to the next. However, what seem like minor details can have major impacts on calf performance.  These include

Meeting Protein Needs of Growing Dairy Calves – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

Posted on June 25, 2015 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist In the calf world, we often think of protein in terms of percentage of milk replacer powder, but a multitude of factors affect the growing calf’s protein needs. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and vital to maintenance, growth and structural development.  Amino

Video: Feeding Calves in Autofeeder Systems – The Feeding Program (Part 1)

Posted on April 28, 2015 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
In this video, Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator, outlines how to set the feeding program in an autofeeder system.  Stay tuned for future videos on maintenance, trouble shooting and data management.  Gain more helpful video tips on our YouTube channel.