Meeting the Gold Standards – Part 2

Posted on November 2, 2012 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
The last edition of Starting Strong included the first three of the six categories defined in the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association’s (DCHA) Gold Standards.

Dr. Gary Neubauer, a veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health, said the Gold Standards give producers benchmarks to gauge their calf management programs and focus on the areas that could be most improved.

Following are the last three categories of the DCHA Gold Standards.  Refer to the August edition of Starting Strong for details on mortality, morbidity and growth rate.

Colostrum management

  • First feeding
    • Feed calves colostrum equal to 10 percent of their body weight in the first four hours of life.
  • Colostrum quality
    • Colostrum should be disease-free and contain no blood, debris or mastitis
    • Use a colostrum tester or IgG test to verify colostrum quality
    • The target bacteria count is less than 100,000 CFU/ml
    • The target immunity level of animals at 2 to 7 days of age is:  Blood serum total protein of more than 5.2g/dL for calves receiving maternal colostrum or a serum IgG level of greater than 10.0 g/L


  • Your nutrition program should be structured to achieve the morbidity and growth rate Gold Standards.  Monitor calves’ performance and consult with your nutritionist and veterinarian regularly.
  • Clean water and starter grain should be available to calves 24/7 by 3 days of age.  Refresh or replenish water and starter daily.


  • All calf and heifer facilities should be clean, dry and draft-free with good air quality.
  • Space required varies on size and age of animals:
    • Calves 1 to 60 days of age
      • Large enough for calf to turn around
    • Calves 61 to 120 days of age
      • Minimum of 34 square feet of resting space per animal
      • Adequate feeding space for all animals to eat at the same time
    • Calves 121 to 180 days of age
      • Minimum 40 square feet of resting space in bedded-pack housing One stall per animal if animals are placed in freestall housing
      • Adequate feeding space for all animals to eat at the same time

Category: Calf and heifer nutrition
Starting Strong - Calf Care