Sheila McGuirk from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine shared the importance of quality colostrum and water availability in pre-weaned calves at the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association conference in early April.

  • Colostrum management has a critical impact on the health and survival of dairy calves from birth to weaning.  Beyond the immediate benefit of calf survival and pre-weaned health, colostrum also has long term implication on growth rate and feed efficiency, reproductive efficiency, milk production and longevity in the herd.
  • Water, always an essential nutrient, is most important for calves living outside their critical temperature range and being fed a diet high in total milk solids or when they are scouring.  Water requirements, even at birth, cannot be provided solely through the liquid feed.  Water should be introduced into the diet within the first three days of life and, ideally, available at all times.