Insights from USDA Dairy Heifer Raiser study

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Editor’s Note: This Tip of the Week has been brought to you by the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association.

Heifer growers face an array of challenges including heifer health, client relations, payments from producers and feed cost/availability. 

Released in October by USDA National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS), the Dairy Heifer Raiser 2011 study surveyed more than 200 heifer growers about the current management practices used on heifer-raising facilities.

This study brings to light several areas of importance for growers. A few noteworthy points included:

  • The varying age in which heifer calves are transported to heifer-raising operations. The findings revealed that calves were transported within a day or so of birth and others after weaning.
  • Transmission of diseases with repeated use of needles from one animal to another.
  • The study indicated that 70 percent of operations recorded individual treatments administered to sick dairy heifers.
  • Vehicles used to transport preweaned heifers must be clean. Vehicles that are used to transport multiple shipments without being washed could pose a disease risk to heifers.

Click here for study details.

This study was a cooperative effort between the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), participating States and DCHA. Since a complete list of heifer-raising operations does not exist, the starting point for most states was the DCHA membership list. 

The DCHA Gold Standards address topics covered in this study such as housing, transportation, colostrum, preventing disease, nutrition and much more. It is DCHA's goal to continue to promote the Gold Standards to equip members with practical information on how to tackle daily challenges growers face. 

In the near future, members can look forward to having access to various real-life learning tools on how to best achieve Gold Standards.



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