Regional Calf Report: Indiana – Bryan Knoper, Vita Plus
Calf raising trends in the Indiana market area have changed greatly in the past several years. It seems, when accelerated growth milk replacers were introduced, many producers adopted this new technology and were pleased with the early growth they could clearly identify without even weighing or measuring the calves.
However, the excitement died down when it came to the task of transitioning these high-performing animals to grain. It soon became apparent that a different strategy was needed to facilitate a smooth transition and not give up the early growth trend. Different starters have been used as well as company-specific milk step-down methods. At the farm level, it seems some are still challenged with this gap in performance yet today.
In the past couple years, especially when whey prices were peaking, pasteurized milk became a lot more popular. In this way, a moderate accelerated growth program was still achieved. Early adopters were burdened with scours challenges when the pasteurizer malfunctioned. This unwelcomed hurdle has mostly been sidelined as producers have adopted stringent protocols to more closely monitor bacteria levels in the pasteurizers as well as the feeding equipment.
Recent facility trends seem to coincide with greater emphasis on respiratory health. Most commercial calf raising facilities have trended toward using calf hutches to address this challenge. Alternatively, many others have erected small monoslope barns that are typically equipped with overhead air tubes. These systems successfully keep out the stale air in the individual stalls and lead to fewer respiratory treatments at the end of the day. Greater awareness of cold stress is also evident with increasing calf jacket use and additional feedings of milk to maintain body condition and support a higher level of immunity.
On the horizon, producers and commercial raisers both have expressed concern with increasing treatment regulations and what medication options they will have available to care for calves. This has generated more interest in the areas of probiotics, MOS products, and essential oils, and greater scrutiny of colostrum management.
Calf and heifer nutrition
Starting Strong - Calf Care