Karl Burgi, well-known calf-care expert from Wisconsin, provided these seven take-home messages at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar this past spring:

  • Raising heifers in larger groups requires more management to prevent lameness.
  • Stress compromises hoof integrity, causing lameness. Minimize stress whenever possible.
  • Manage environment and feeding, and provide a pre-fresh functional hoof time to prevent corkscrew claw, a permanent claw disorder.
  • Quality feed delivered consistently grows strong, healthy heifers and prevents lameness.
  • A clean, dry environment is essential to prevent infectious diseases.
  • Heifers with acute foot warts (digital dermatitis) become cows prone to repeated acute digital dermatitis lesions throughout their productive life.
  • Prepare heifers for the milking herd by introducing them to concrete and mature cows at 7-months pregnant, and providing them with a functional hoof trim eight weeks to four weeks before calving.