Nutrition/Feeding

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Dairy Herd Management Articles:
 

Heifer nutrition and growth rates
One calf grower shares his advice.

Do preconditioning programs work for dairy heifers?
It may be time to take a lesson from the beef industry.

More frequent meals may benefit calves 
New research at the University of Minnesota found that calves increased grain intake when fed milk replacer four times a day. 

Digging into vitamin D needs for calves 
A new model should help determine just how much of this nutrient dairy calves should get to promote optimal growth and health.

Evaluate your weaning strategies 
New information may have you reconsider your approach.

Strategies to enhance intake 
Stimulating starter grain intake early in a calf’s life has both health and growth benefits. In the April Nutritionist e-Network, Noah Litherland, extension dairy scientist, and Alanna Kmicikewycz, graduate research assistant, at the University of Minnesota, share strategies on how to enhance starter grain intake in pre-weaned dairy claves. Read their 12 management strategies.  

Can we pasteurize colostrum?
Controlling bacteria levels in colostrum is an important aspect of managing this important first feed for calves. Once it is collected, colostrum can be refrigerated, frozen, or have potassium sorbate added to control bacterial growth (though the latter is seldom used). We are learning that pasteurization can also be used to reduce bacterial growth in colostrum.

Nutrition and udder edema in first-calf heifers 
A smooth transition into the milking herd is essential for heifers’ success in the first lactation and beyond. One challenge that affects first-calf heifers more than older cows is udder edema.

Mycotoxins can impact calves
In most species, young animals are more sensitive than mature animals to the effects of mycotoxins. However, dairy cattle may be the exception to the rule, says Duarte Diaz, ruminant research manager at Novus International.

Body condition score your calves
There are many different feeding programs for preweaned calves. Selecting the right milk or milk replacer option and starter is not easy, says Steve Hayes, veterinarian with Day 1 Technology in Winona, Minn.

Start her off right
We often invest much time, effort and money into getting cows pregnant, but take little time or effort taking care of that pregnancy once it comes time for the calf to enter the world.

Feed heifers a TMR 
Results from a new study published in the April issue of the Journal of Dairy Science suggest that feeding a total mixed ration to replacement heifers may promote a more even daytime feeding pattern, minimize feed sorting and feed bunk competition, and promote more solid fecal consistency.

Flavored calf starter?
Many of the foods we consume today contain added flavoring to make them more appealing and enjoyable to eat. But would flavoring added to calf starter make starter more appealing to calves and improve intakes?

Realities of feeding small calves
There are many myths that surround the feeding of small calves. People often believe that Jerseys aren’t very thrifty and they die easily. Bob James, dairy scientist at Virginia Tech, discusses these myths and the realities of feeding small calves.

Changes in medicated milk replacer regulations
The FDA ruling on medicated milk replacers gives calf raisers an opportunity to focus on preventing coccidiosis from day one.

Make colostrum replacers work for calves
One of the most crucial aspects of calf health is getting adequate amounts of high quality IgG into calves as soon as possible after birth, says Travis Thayer, DVM, AgriLabs. Proper collection, handling and administration of colostrum are essential to get calves off to a good start.

Taking heifer reproduction to the next level
Use these guidelines to get heifers bred.  

Options to replace NT
As a result of the new FDA regulations for medicated milk replacers that go into effect this year, many calf-raisers are looking for an option to replace the 2:1 combo of Neomycin and Oxytetracycline or NT.

Take her higher
There is a growing consensus that calves fed to a "higher plane of nutrition" are healthier than their conventionally fed counterparts.

Milk replacers and nutrient digestion
There have been nutritional concerns about feeding young calves milk replacer solids of 0.9 kilograms (1.98 pounds) of dry matter or more due to slumps in average daily gain. New research by Nurture Research, a part of Provimi North America (formerly Akey Nutrition and Research), provides new insight to these concerns.  

Improve your colostrum feeding program 
Here are some guidelines for proper use of a colostrometer.

Time to revisit acidified milk replacer? 
Acidified milk or milk replacer fed to calves may provide an option for reducing the incidence of scours.

New regulations for medicated milk replacers 
In the fall of 2009, the FDA announced major changes to the use of neomycin-terramycin (NT) in milk replacers.

Solve colostrum feeding problems 
Use these tips to troubleshoot colostrum feeding problems on your dairy farm.

Calves can thrive in cold weather 
According to research published in the December Journal of Dairy Science, when calves receive adequate nutrition, they can tolerate considerable periods of cold without affecting growth.

Should you enhance your calf-feeding program? 
The latest research on accelerated calf-feeding programs is discussed.

Make alternative feeds work 
A nutritionist offers insight on what to look for in an alternative feed and how to evaluate its nutrient value.

Management decisions for automatic feeders 
Automatic feeders require many management decisions to be made. One calf manager offers insight into making these decisions.

Ins and outs of automatic calf feeders< <br /> CY Heifer Farm in Elba, N.Y., shares its experience with automatic calf feeders.

Get them off to a good start 
Nutritionist Al Kertz offers comments on calf-rearing programs and the need to get calves off to a good start.

Are you feeding quality colostrum? 
Sam Leadley, calf-care specialist with Attica (N.Y.) Veterinary Associates, offers several tips.

Excellence in colostrum management 
Use these tips to help your calves.

Aim for zero feed refusal
“There’s no reason (why) we should overfeed heifers,” says Greg Bethard, of G&R Dairy Consulting in Wytheville, Va.

Feed heifers for a smooth transition
Springing heifers have unique nutrient requirements and should be managed accordingly to maximize productivity during their first lactation, says Noah Litherland, University of Minnesota extension dairy nutritionist.

De-oiled distillers grains OK for heifers
Distillers grains that are processed for reduced oil content may be “a viable option” for replacement heifer rations, according to a new Purdue University study.

Heifer feeding behavior studied
Young dairy heifers fed a total mixed ration of grain concentrate and chopped grass hay sorted their feed less and ate a more balanced diet throughout the day compared to heifers offered concentrate separately from the hay or top-dressed on it, according to a Canadian study in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science.

Study examines ammonia emissions from heifers
Ammonia emissions from the manure of heifers fed a high-concentrate diet were no different than those released from the manure of heifers fed a low-concentrate diet.

Back off on phosphorus
Many feed ingredients in heifer diets contain plenty of phosphorus, which makes it difficult to keep phosphorus levels in the diet within recommendations.

Heifer-feeding Webinar
Want to learn more about feeding distillers grains to replacement heifers?

Straw in heifer diets studied
Straw in the diet of growing heifers “strongly influences” sorting behavior, according to Canadian research in the July Journal of Dairy Science .

New publication compiles latest dairy research
What is the best way to grow a dairy heifer? “It depends,” is the overtired response. But researchers at several leading universities attempted to quantify that answer in the recent publication, “Heifer Growth and Economics: Target Growth.”

Reduce stillbirths
One of the most disappointing events on a dairy farm occurs when a calf is born dead.

Step up nutrition to meet genetic potential
The practice of genetic selection for higher milk production is another reason to reassess your nutrition program for heifers, says Bennet Cassell, Virginia Tech dairy scientist.

Graze heifers on winter annual forages
Researchers at Ohio State University extended the grazing season for Holstein and Jersey heifers with annual ryegrass and a mixture of oats and cereal rye.

Heifer feeding options plentiful
Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, took a look at a number of heifer-feeding regimens.

Limit-fed heifers generate less manure
Imagine 10 pounds less manure per heifer per day. That was one result of a study reported in the February Journal of Dairy Science.

Teach young heifers to graze
See how this producer trains young heifers to be good, efficient grazers.

Heifers do well on alternative proteins
A new study shows post-weaned heifers get good gains when fed grain mixes containing dried distillers grains or urea.

Heifers sort feed, too
When given the chance, heifers will sort their feed — just like lactating cows.

Abrupt weaning hurts growth
Going “cold turkey” at weaning is stressful on all calves.

Self-feeders work well in heifer barns
This automated system delivers grain from an outside bin to the heifers’ troughs when it is needed.

Do you feed your heifers enough?
Here are three rules of thumb you should keep in mind when feeding heifers.

Fenceline hay feeder saves pasture
Check out this design that allows round-bale feeding without the use of traditional round-bale feeders.

Grow her fast without the worry
Learn the answers to your questions about rapid growth between three months and puberty, and its impact on mammary development and future milk yield.

Does laminitis start at weaning?
How you feed heifers at weaning may set them up for future lameness problems, according to preliminary research from Colorado State University.

Set limits on gains before puberty
How fast can you grow heifers before puberty without hurting first-lactation milk yield?

Build your heifer supply
Put these two ideas to work on your farm in order to help grow your heifer supply from WITHIN the dairy.

Control variation in heifer feed calls
Consider adopting this tool from the beef feedlot industry to help reduce variation in feed delivery.

Special diet prevents fat heifers
Learn how these dairy producers keep their heifers growing well without getting too fat.

Pair corn stalks with wet distillers for heifers
Otherwise your heifers could get too fat.

Raise good heifers at less cost
A study by a custom heifer grower in Minnesota shows you can get good rates of gain with less cost by utilizing rotational grazing.

Build a complete heifer system
An intensive feeding program can get your calves off to a great start. However, if you want to keep building on those gains you need to build a complete heifer growth system to meet your goals.

Keep heifer growth rates steady
You can use these on-line heifer growth charts to track heifer performance on your dairy.

Produce low-cost forages for heifers
Forages often make up a significant portion of the diets fed to heifers. And, it’s easy to forget just how much homegrown forages contribute to the cost of raising a heifer.

Chart the growth of heifers
Computer program allows you to chart height and weight of heifers and compare to others.

Is she eating your profits?
Here are three ways to stop heifers from taking a big bite out of your bottom line.

Wet distillers an option for heifers
Growing heifers performed well on a diet consisting of wet distillers grains and low-quality forage in a recent on-farm trial conducted by South Dakota State University researchers.

Two feed sources for transition calves
Adding an extra source of feed helps heifer calves transition to headlocks without losing body weight.

Lower phosphorus in heifer diets
Study shows a lot of heifers receive too much phosphorus in their diets.

Don’t guess at heifer performance
You need more than a visual appraisal to accurately track how your heifers are doing.

Ruler helps judge wither height
Use this idea to help check and track heifer growth.

Rate of gain targets
When it comes to raising replacement heifers, keeping protein and energy in proper balance is key to rearing heifers that freshen at 24 months of age, weigh about 1,250 pounds after calving, and are at least 54 inches high at the withers, says Mike VandeHaar.

Prevent poor starts among fresh heifers
We’ve seen many fresh heifers recently with rough hair coats, rapid weight loss and too much metritis after calving.

Feed good-quality hay to heifers
At this heifer-growing operation feeding high-quality hay helps promote intake.

Reduce the phosphorus in heifer diets
Overfeeding phosphorus isn’t just a problem in lactating-cow rations. Heifer diets also provide excess levels, according to University of Wisconsin research.

Heifer feed bunk fundamentals
Use these five strategies to help weaned heifers adjust to a feed bunk.

Success with intensive feeding
Calves gained on average 1.6 pounds for day during the first four weeks of life.

Keep low-energy feeds on hand
Heifers raised in free-stall barns need some low-energy feeds.

Pre-fresh heifers need a separate transition diet
Are your pre-fresh heifers getting the energy they need for maintenance, growth and, eventually, milk production? Here's why you should separate them from your transition cows.

Combat winter's chill
Don't let cold stress slow your heifer growth rates.

How to manage cold-stress situations
If you find heifers not gaining as much weight as you planned due to cold stress, use the following steps to change their environment and their diet.

Heifers may not benefit from DCAD
A Michigan State University study, reported in the September 2000 Journal of Dairy Science, suggests that first-calf heifers do not benefit from a negative DCAD diet prior to calving.

Grow her fast without the worry
Learn the answers to your questions about rapid growth between three months and puberty, and its impact on mammary development and future milk yield.

Rate of gain targets
When it comes to raising replacement heifers, keeping protein and energy in proper balance is key to rearing heifers that freshen at 24 months of age, weigh about 1,250 pounds after calving, and are at least 54 inches high at the withers, says Mike VandeHaar.

Keep low-energy feeds on hand
Heifers raised in free-stall barns need some low-energy feeds.

Pre-fresh heifers need a separate transition diet
Are your pre-fresh heifers getting the energy they need for maintenance, growth and, eventually, milk production? Here's why you should separate them from your transition cows.

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