Do you use a body tape to monitor calves’ growth and body condition? Here are a few guidelines for using the tool to accurately monitor calf performance, provided by Neil Michael, director of dairy initiatives with Vita Plus Corp.:
• Use a body tape intended specifically for calves to ensure accurate weights.
• Weigh five to 10 newborn calves to compare to tape readings. This gives you a benchmark to use moving forward.
• The same person should consistently perform body taping to avoid user differences.
• Weigh calves at birth, three weeks and weaning to compare to published growth charts and benchmarked average daily gain.
• Repeat tapings on groups of animals three to four times per year to detect seasonal or nutritional opportunities.
• Put your hands on the calves and palpate in addition to taping to get a better picture of how calves are progressing.