Regional Calf Report – Northwest Illinois – Richard Mensendike

Posted on June 26, 2013 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Richard Mensendike, Vita Plus Lanark dairy specialist

Now that summer has finally arrived here in northwest Illinois, we’re focusing on a lot of the basic management protocols we need to follow to keep calves healthy in hot weather.

Fly control seems to be the top issue on most calf raisers’ minds.  This trend started in early spring and has carried through as temperatures have risen.  That’s a good thing because the bugs seem to be particularly bad this year.

Almost all of my customers are feeding milk replacers, so having ClariFly in milk replacers is of big value.  It seems this is preferred to an add-pack simply because it cuts out an extra step during an already busy season.  I also remind calf raisers to trim back their pastures and keep the areas around hutches clean.  This helps to control the fly population as well.

The other big thing I’ve been focusing on is water.  With the heat, it’s increasingly important to offer free-choice water after every feeding.  With such a slow spring, the sudden high temperatures may have caught a few people by surprise, but we can’t rush and forget the little things.

Fortunately, even with the wet weather, we haven’t seen a lot in terms of disease pressure.  The one exception is an increased occurrence of pink eye in weaned heifers.  With a lot of these animals on pasture, it’s hard to manage this challenge.  It’s always important to keep animals under close observation so you can catch and treat a disease like this quickly.

The last key strategy this summer is ventilation.  About three-quarters of the calves I see are in hutches.  We need to make sure we have them vented as temperatures rise.  For the calves in barns, it’s especially important to get the fans running for adequate ventilation.  We need to dry out the pens during this wet season and also keep the calf’s environment as comfortable and stress-free as possible.

Category: Animal health
Facility design
Fly control
Starting Strong - Calf Care