Regional Calf Report: Central Michigan – Kristi Keilen
Here in Michigan, things have been going well this month. An unusually cool summer has been very good for the calves. With temperatures staying right around the 70s, we haven’t had much heat stress to worry about and calves have minimal health issues. Temperatures have climbed this week, however, and we need to watch our calves more closely for heat stress. But fall is right around the corner!
Lately, I have seen producers wanting to “take it to the next level” with their calf programs. I have seen more autofeeder barns go up and producers who have mastered the autofeeder barns are now trying for that extra half-pound gain. They have stepped up management procedures as well as their feeding programs. Overall, they have seen some very nice improvement in growth rates of the calves.
Autofeeder barns seem to have decreased ventilation, which, in turn, often leads to respiratory issues. Positive pressure tubes have greatly reduced the number of respiratory issues that often come with these autofeeder barns, and, in general, any group housing of calves. The key to these systems is staying current; continual changes are made to the tub size, fan size and more.
Another improvement I have seen starting to take off is the use of Brix refractometers. We know feeding colostrum is one of the most important steps in raising healthy calves. Using the glass colostrometers has become too difficult. They get broken but not replaced, and we end up using our eyes to “guess” the colostrum quality. In my experience, calf raisers have found that the Brix refractometer results are very different from what they were guessing.
With this new technology being used more and more, producers have begun to use more colostrum replacers as they only want to feed the good and very good colostrum to calves. In some cases, they are having a hard time finding enough colostrum on their farms. Using a good colostrum replacer has been helpful in the success of these calves.
Looking to September, with harvest and getting busy in the fields, having a good supply of the colostrum replacer on hand, and making sure the calf-raising procedures are in order, we should have another great month. I look forward to seeing many more improvements and producers taking their calf programs to the next level.
Starting Strong - Calf Care