Virtual Farm Tour: MCAA Land & Cattle Co.
At MCAA Land & Cattle Co. in Winamac, Ind., perfection is the goal and hard work is the name of the game. The farm is owned and operated by Maurice Loehmer with the help of his son, Adam. Connie, Maurice’s wife, and Ashley, Adam’s wife, also provide support for the operation. A couple years ago, Loehmer recognized he needed some updates to his calf program and worked with Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator, to design the best system for his operation.
Loehmer’s first project was to replace his calf hutches and design new sanitation protocols. The new hutches are power-washed and sanitized between calves and the pad is scraped to the ground. That area will stay empty for a week before new calves are placed in the hutches. Hutches not in use are tipped on their sides to allow the sun to act as a natural disinfectant. In the winter time, Loehmer’s calves are bedded with at least 12 inches of long straw. He’ll use less straw in the summer to keep calves from overheating.
Good nutrition is also a top priority at MCAA. Employees make every effort to feed newborn calves four quarts of colostrum in the first two hours after birth. If colostrum is not of high enough quality or quantity, Loehmer will use Secure® instead. A second feeding of colostrum is offered 12 hours later.
Starting at one week, the calves begin the Vita Plus Momentum accelerated program and are fed 1 pound of MomentaCalf milk replacer with three quarts of water twice daily. They are also offered an 18-percent starter starting at day 3 and are given fresh, clean water twice a day. After three to four weeks, the calves begin consuming about a pound of fresh starter every day. At week 6, they’re up to two to three pounds and begin weaning. At that time, the milk feedings are reduced to once a day for a week and no milk after that.
That’s also when the calves are moved to a transition pen. They start in groups of 15 and are eventually placed in groups of 30. Loehmer mixes the starter and grower for a couple of days until they’re averaging five pounds per day. After that, the calves are started on a dry TMR ration with a top dressing of grain for the first few days.
Leadership and management
Loehmer said good management of his employees has been the key to a successful operation. The “what if’s” and “yeah, but’s” are eliminated from his vocabulary. He said he works hard to put each of his 15 employees in the right spot and instill a passion for raising the best animals possible.
Loehmer said the farm recognized the importance of strict protocols. That way, if an employee is gone for a day, the calves still receive consistent care. However, the protocols are still adaptable when they need to be. He said employees take the responsibility to pay attention to the little details in their area on the farm. That way, they are able to recognize and treat animals quickly before they sacrifice performance. This also holds employees accountable for their individual job responsibilities. Blame is not passed down the line.
According to Loehmer, everything boils down to effective leadership and management. He said a producer really only has control over three things: attitude, costs and production. He said attitude is the driving force behind the other two areas. By developing a team atmosphere and a passion for excellence, lower costs and increased production come more naturally.
Starting Strong - Calf Care