Regional Calf Report: Southern Wisconsin – Frankie Rathbun, Vita Plus Columbus

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

By Frankie Rathbun, Vita Plus Columbus dairy specialist
Spring has arrived here in southern Wisconsin and we have been experiencing the wet conditions that come along with it. Based on the on-farm observations our team has made and discussions with veterinarians, I believe that respiratory disease has been the number one challenge as we enter spring. Along with that, an increase in Salmonella-related challenges have not only resulted in scours, but also have developed into respiratory issues in some herds. Salmonella can be transferred through saliva, milk, fecal-oral vectors, nasal contact and colostrum. Key factors that impact the spread of Salmonella are cleanliness and ventilation.

Fast Fact: What’s the Recommended Resting Space for Heifers? – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus

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

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

Question:  What's the recommended resting space for heifers?

Quick answer:  Forty square feet is the recommended resting space for a heifer that is three to five months old.

A bit more:  Um…scoot over.  I need my space! 

Ask the Expert: What Maintenance Does My PPTV Need? – Courtney Halbach, The Dairyland Initiative

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

By Courtney Halbach, associate outreach specialist, The Dairyland Initiative

Question:  What maintenance does my positive pressure tube ventilation system need to continue working efficiently?

Answer:  Positive pressure tube ventilation (PPTV) systems have significantly improved calf health and air quality in many calf barns by delivering fresh, outside air at the minimum ventilation rate of four air changes per hour without creating a draft. In order to perform as expected, PPTV systems need to be maintained properly.

Focus on Dairy Heifer Air Quality – 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
Fresh air is something we sometimes take for granted out in the country.  We give considerable thought and effort to making sure our milk replacer program is right or our pasteurizer is working correctly, but perhaps we should think more about the quality of air in our calf and heifer facilities. 

Fast Fact: Air Exchanges in the Summer – Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus

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

Question:  How many air exchanges are needed for summer barn ventilation?

Quck answer:  40 to 60 exchanges per hour

A little more on that...

VIDEO: Comfort and Fit to Successfully Feed Calves (Part 2) – Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus

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

In this video, Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator, discusses many of the facility considerations needed to successfully feed transition calves. These animals may already be stressed due to weaning, pen moves and grouping. Make it easy for transition calves to find their feed and water and help adjust to their new environments quickly.  Click here to watch part 1 of this series, which addresses feeding considerations for preweaned calves.

Maximizing comfort and productivity in a hot, humid climate – Don Bennink, North Florida Holsteins

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

By Progressive Dairyman Editor Peggy Coffeen
In the past few decades, North Florida Holsteins has figured out how to achieve more than 90 pounds of milk per day in an environment where extreme heat stress is the norm.

The heifer facility puzzle: Design the pieces – Dr. Joseph Harner, Kansas State University

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

When planning facilities for calves and heifers, dairy producers must piece together their management style with production goals, such as expanding versus maintaining herd size, or using automated versus manual labor.

“It’s a big puzzle,” Dr. Joseph Harner, livestock housing and facilities expert at Kansas State University, said. “Long term, think about the impact of where you want to be.”

Farm School presenters share their key take-home points

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

To kick-off Vita Plus Calf Summit 2016, about 120 attendees participated in the preconference Farm School on June 21 at Ostrowski Farms, Inc. in Eland, Wisconsin.  While on farm, participants rotated through several stations to learn the best management practices in a wide variety of calf and heifer care areas.  Each speaker shared their key points for attendees to take back to their home farms.

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.  

VIDEO: Comfort and Fit to Successfully Feed Calves (Part 1) – Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus

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

In this video, Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator, discusses many of the facility considerations needed to successfully feed young calves.  From bottle angles to correct pail heights, many factors impact whether a calf can easily and comfortably get the nutrition it needs.

Regional Calf Report: Central Minnesota – Jack Hales & Larrie Rosen, Vita Plus

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

By Jack Hales and Larrie Rosen, Vita Plus dairy specialists
Central Minnesota is experiencing a rather mild winter with occasional blasts of our traditional winters. This change in weather can be tough on animals both inside and out.

The changing weather is causing two major issues. The first challenge is poor air quality, leading to respiratory issues. The second issue is freeze-ups caused by blasts of cold weather.

Keys to Healthy Nursery Calves – Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus

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

By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator
Getting calves off to a good start is key to long-term health and performance.

This starts in the maternity pen. It is vital that the calving area is clean, dry, provides ample space for calving, and is comfortable for the cow. For newborn calves – and their immune systems – the goal is to provide the best environment possible.  That is one that is free of manure and allows for an easy entrance into the world.

Calf Care Quick Tip: Block Chilly Drafts in Hutches

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

If you’re raising calves in hutches, take a good look at where drafts might be getting in and chilling your calves.  For example, the bottle holder might be a draft source.  Putting a small amount of straw in the bottle holder area is one small, simple way to help protect your calves on the coldest, windiest days.

Lessons Learned: Hall’s Calf Ranch One Year After Expansion

Posted on August 27, 2015 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator J Hall of Hall’s Calf Ranch began his business by raising 12 calves behind his house.  That picture is a bit different today. Hall’s Calf Ranch in Kewaunee, Wisconsin is now home to 5,000 calves in hutches and another 2,200 weaned calves in barns.  Most arrive at

Regional Calf Report: Western Michigan – Maddie Culbertson, North Central Co-op

Posted on June 25, 2015 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Maddie Culbertson, North Central Co-op dairy specialist With another cold winter behind us, I am happy to report calves in our region came through the harsh conditions thriving.  With nightmares of the winter of 2013-14 lingering, many producers had a heightened awareness of the implications cold stress can have on the future herd.  Modified