Feeding calves after the holiday hangover

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Depending on who you have filling in for you on Friday, 4th of July, sometimes it's frustrating to come back after having a day off from calf care.

The case in this note is one that may not be too uncommon. On this dairy the calf feeding routine is to begin by walking calves and, in the summer, dumping water pails hanging on the fences in front of the hutches. As you  walk along in front of the older calves none of the calves over five weeks old have any water left. Well, you need to be sure to feed water three times today to help these older calves catch up on their water intake.

As you get closer and closer to the youngest calves the calf starter grain pails seem rather full. Yes, it happened yet again. The person filling in for the holiday did not really get the message about how much grain to feed calves. He (she) just put five-plus quarts of grain in every pail - youngest to oldest. Since the farm protocol for grain feeding is to feed grain to appetite (nearly empty every morning) this means a lot of work dumping over-filled grain pails.

Now we are ready to mix the milk replacer. We mix in 30-gallon Brute-brand waste containers. As you set these down off the rack along the wall they don't look "right." A quick check reveals slick, slippery surfaces inside all three containers - oops, they were "washed" by spraying them out with water from a hose and set up to drain. Since the farm cleaning protocol is a 4-step procedure (rinse, wash, rinse, dry) this means washing all this equipment before you start to mix milk replacer this morning. For a review of this protocol and the protocol itself click Washing Checklist or Washing Protocol.

These slip ups just remind us of the need to train and retrain our substitute workers. Since learning-by-doing is an exceptionally effective method of training the ideal to work toward is having the substitute worker shadow or help during a feeding when every possible. For a short checklist on skill-focused training click Here.

About Sam: Lots of hands-on experience calf rearing - 12 years for 1200 cow dairy. Lots of calf management consulting experience - 14 years in US and other countries. Contact information is: Sam Leadley, Attica Veterinary Associates, Attica, NY 14011 USA Mobile 585-356-0769 E-mail smleadley@yahoo.com Websites: www.atticacows.com and calffacts.com



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