Clear Communication Essential to Working with Custom Raisers
- Talk to your neighbors and peers to get recommendations for quality custom raisers in the area.
- Visit the facility to make sure the environment your calves will be raised in meets your expectations.
- Treat your relationship with the custom raiser as a partnership. You both share the goal of raising the best calves to eventually enter the milking herd.
- Stay involved with your calves. Regularly communicate with the custom raiser to learn more about management strategies and health status of your animals. That includes asking a lot of questions to make sure you are on the same page.
- If you ever feel like your calves are performing poorly, bring it up with the custom raiser so that you can work together to isolate the problem. Hall said your focus shouldn’t be on the fact that the calf is sick, but rather it should be on why the calf got sick. This will help you prevent future issues.
- Likewise, if things are going well, make sure you mention that too. This will help the raiser know which management strategies are most effective.
- Don’t be afraid to bring outside experts into the conversation. Your veterinarian and other consultants can provide insight that you and/or the calf raiser may miss.
- How often will calves be delivered to the custom raiser?
- Who is responsible for transportation to and from the custom raiser?
- What will be your protocol for newborn calves? (Consider colostrum management, navel care, tagging, vaccinations, etc.)
- Who will be responsible for health costs prior to pick-up? At the custom raising facility?
- Who will be responsible for tests or screenings? (Total proteins, ear notching, etc.)
- What will be included in the custom raiser’s health and sanitation protocols?
- Who will be responsible for routine conditioning programs? (De-horning, tail-docking, etc.)?
- Who will be responsible for veterinary costs? How will that be assessed?
- What is the tolerable death loss? What is the policy if your death loss is higher than that?
- When will heifers return to the home farm?
- Will the heifers be bred at the custom raiser’s facilities? If so, what are the required reproductive benchmarks? Who is responsible for these costs?
- How will you determine the rate of compensation?
- When will payments be made? In full? Monthly?
- When will the contract expire or be re-evaluated?
- Who is responsible for liability insurance? What does that cover?
- What records will each party be required to keep? How will those records be shared?
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Starting Strong - Calf Care