11 Calf Care Resolutions to Keep This Year – Vita Plus Calf Team
A new year is the perfect time to review calf care protocols and set goals for what you can do better in the year ahead. Here are 11 calf care resolutions you should keep this year to help raise healthy calves.
- Make colostrum quality and serum total protein checks part of your regular herd health visits. (At least quarterly if your farm does not check every calf.)
- For farms that do not have access to a Brix refractometer, you can freeze samples of colostrum until they can be analyzed in batches by your veterinarian.
- Record all antibiotic treatments for calves on paper. They can then be put in permanent farm records, including computer databases, if applicable.
- This includes Veterinary Feed Directives (VFDs). All producers must keep a copy of their VFDs for two years.
- Review treatment records with your veterinarian to make sure you properly follow medication label instructions according to dose, route, frequency, duration, indication and withdrawal time.
- Clean, clean and clean some more. Cleanliness is priceless and can fix a lot of problems fast. Review your cleaning protocols and make sure each step is completed with the product of choice.
- Take time to sit down and review all existing protocols. Decide what protocols from last year fit this year’s goals. Protocols that should be reviewed regularly include feeding plans, vaccinations, disease treatments and cleaning protocols.
- Pay attention to the details. In this day and age, every penny counts; those pennies are in the details. Be consistent and be intentional in your practices. Work with your nutritionist to help identify holes and dial in your calf program to raise healthy calves.
- Know your numbers. Establish written goals and work with the team to achieve those goals. Some numbers to know include cost of per pound of gain, average daily gain, serum total proteins, cost of raising the right heifers, amount of shrink, average breeding age, etc. Creating goals will help the team identify spots and continue to move forward.
- Chart a five-year plan. Where do you want to go with your youngstock program and how are you going to get there?
- Find ways to use your time more efficiently. This may include spending some money on equipment and technology.
- Develop a process to eliminate the guesswork. Is there a routine that you don’t feel like you have a good handle on? Well stop that! Take the time to develop a process to take the guess work out. Buy that scale. Install that water flow meter. Calibrate that pitcher. Ask about that vaccine.
- Draw a simple calf flow diagram from birth to first lactation. What parts of the diagram do you feel good about? What needs improvement or clarification? Share your calf flow diagram with other producers. How does your calf flow diagram compare with theirs?
- Evaluate your youngstock feedbunks. Use a tape measure. Does your feed bunk offer sound feeding ergonomics?
You can use these resolutions as a template to set your own calf care goals, or you can contact your nutritionist to help you set them. Let’s work together this year to help raise healthy calves all year-round.
Calf and heifer nutrition
Starting Strong - Calf Care