|The recent Heartland Cooperative - Land-O-Lakes calf meeting held in Loyal on January 21st was a great success. There were 45 individuals who attended representing 25 dairies. |
Todd McDonough from Land-O-Lakes discussed Land-O-Lakes Animal Milk Products. His focus was on milk replacers, cold weather feeding and advances in calf raising including how to utilize technologies to your advantage.
Amber Bangart, a Certified Veterinary Technician from the Loyal Vet Service talked about the practical pitfalls for raising calves from the veterinary perspective as well as health and disease challenges.
Gary Geisler, a Purina Animal Nutritionist and calf and heifer specialist discussed a variety of feeding issues as well as measuring and monitoring calf and heifer growth.
In addition to the formal presentations a variety of topics were discussed during the question and answer periods. The following are the top ten concerns attendees expressed at the meeting.
- A topic of concern for most dairies was Colostrum; cows just don’t have the colostrum quantity or quality as before.
- Supplementing milk- Adding the fat supplements to milk in the winter and how it does not give the calf the energy she needs in cold weather. Fat is slower to digest. A well balanced diet of protein to fat (1.4:1) ratio is what is recommended to be feeding calves. Feeding more solution (dry matter increase) to the calves in winter will help them maintain growth in cold weather.
- Making sure the calves have enough protein in their diet to ensure good immune system function. Especially in pasteurized milk diets.
- Overcrowding in calf pens- Utilize stress tubs in these environments. There was also a discussion of behaviors of calves in overcrowded environments.
- The pros and cons of pellet feeds vs. textured was discussed. It was noted that pellet feeds are drier but in the long run have added benefits of increased intakes during the first 12 weeks of life. If calves are raised outside, birds are less of a problem with pellets vs. textured feeds. Birds like to take the grain away in textured feeds in the winter. In the summer flies are less of a problem with pellets as they have less molasses then textured. Finally, costs are slightly lower with pellets. Farms are trending towards pellets more as time goes on and producers are getting used to using them on farms.
- Of concern were tools used for measuring temperature and quality of colostrum. There are some really great tools out there for fast easy measurement of temperature and quality. Really a cheap investment on a diary. Digital Refractometers were mentioned as a fast and easy tool to directly read the percent solids in waste milk as well as colostrum quality in milk. They can be found from multiple manufacturers and suppliers at around $300-500. Infrared thermometers were also mentioned as an easy to use tool for quick point and check temperature readings.
- Colostrum feeding,
- Want 100g/L of IgG
- Can supplement the colostrum quality with LOL Colostrum replacer
- If your quantity is poor you can mix and supplement colostrum replacer separately but one right after the other.
- Colostrum replacer is hard to mix due to the fat content in the colostrum replacer. If it is high quality fat it will be hard to get back into solution. There are new methods being tried to get it to mix back in but are still at an early stage in development yet.
- Watch the type of replacer you use because you want it to be from 100% cow’s milk and not from blood sources.
- Temperature at feeding!!! Anything under 102% a calf will have a delayed response to absorption. A calf cannot start to absorb IgG’s from colostrum unless the colostrum is at body temperature.
- A cow will start to reabsorb the IgG’s in her colostrum starting at 2hrs after giving birth. The IgG’s in her colostrum will drop off significantly as the hrs go by.
- Water temperature was talked about as well. Fresh, clean, warm (102 degree) water in the winter time. If the water isn’t warm, then the calf needs to use energy that could otherwise be used for growth to warm up the water.
- Finally, test blood 24hrs-7days after birth/colostrum feeding to determine total protein levels. This will allow you to see just how well the calf has absorbed the much needed IgG’s from her colostrum. A vet office can do the test or you can test on farm with a refractometer (mentioned above).
- Finally, easy and humane techniques for dehorning calves were an area of concern. It was discussed that it is advisable to dehorn a calf within the first day of birth. Clip the hair around the bud and apply a dime sized amount of paste to the bud. This time is the easiest and most humane method that can be used on the calf. If you do it after feeding 4qts of colostrum, the calf will usually just lay there and sleep while the paste is working and by the time the calf is up wanting its next feeding the paste has already done its job. It was said that all the paste needs is 30 minutes of contact time at this young of an age to do prevent horn growth.
If you missed the calf meeting in Loyal, Heartland has two future meetings planned; one in Marathon and one is Sheldon. Additional details will be coming soon.