Pay attention to calf bedding

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In hutch housing when the bedding is wet and dirty, dairy calves are in a bind.

Body heat losses increase and ammonia levels become unhealthy.

Follow this important advice from Sam Leadley, calf management specialist with Attica Veterinary Associates, P.C., Attica, N.Y.:

  • Add enough good-quality bedding to maintain a clean and dry resting base. Leadley says “good quality” is the key because he occasionally sees producers trying to use soybean waste or chopped corn stalks as calf bedding. “The former has a low absorption capacity. The latter is usually too high in moisture to act effectively as insulation.”
  • Move the oldest calves out of hutches promptly. Leadley says the bedding area in a hutch is too small for 170–200 pound calves.

The same advice applies to calf barn housing. Plus, calves may endure worse air-quality issues than hutch calves because not only is their own bedding generating noxious gas, but they may be forced to breathe “barn air” that contains excessively high levels of airborne pathogens.

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Source: Bovine Veterinarian

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