Virtual Farm Tour – Dairy Dreams LLC
Posted on November 9, 2012 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
The team at Dairy Dreams LLC values high quality calf care on its operation to ensure the best calf health around. Six years ago, Dairy Dreams purchased hutches and brought the calves home. The farm is currently building a heifer barn on the main farm to bring all heifers home and have all livestock in one location.
It all starts with the maternity pens. Located in one of the freestall barns, Dairy Dreams has several maternity pens where the cows will go when they are about to calve. Fresh bedding is put into each pen after each birth to ensure no disease is transmitted and the area is clean. Once the calf is born, it is removed and put into its own individual pen across from the maternity area. The cow is milked on the spot and colostrum is fed to the calf within 20 minutes after birth.
Employees keep detailed records of the birthing process, including time of birth, weight, pen number and calving ease. With 2,800 milking cows on the farm, Dairy Dreams only lost two calves in the last year. That’s because the team is trained to pay close attention to detail to ensure the best calf health. An incentive program awards employees when they meet their goals.
After the calf is born and fed, it is moved to one of the hutches outside where is will stay for the next two months. The calves are fed milk twice a day in the morning and afternoon. Calves are fed pasteurized milk during feedings and always have water available. To keep the calves comfortable, hutches are bedded with straw three times a week. Colored hooks are used to mark which calves are on what feedings.
The calves are then transferred to group hutches of eight calves per pen for three months. Pens are bedded with bio solids. While in the group hutches, the calves are transitioned from grower grain to TMR within a four-week period.
To keep the calves healthy, Dairy Dreams uses minimal vaccinations. Dairy Dreams has found that over-treating was inefficient for its calves. According to co-owner Dr. Don Niles, they were over-treating 140 calves for scours. After some analysis, they cut down on treating the calves and have minimized scours to 19 calves.
Dairy Dreams believes in low tech-high quality calf care to ensure they have the healthiest calves. Every detail is noted by committed employees to ensure the calves are in the greatest health possible.