As we wrap up 2019, check out our most popular calf management articles of the year!
Pam Selz-Pralle was frustrated. Her calves were individually housed in a well-ventilated calf barn, but their growth wasn’t what she knew these deeply pedigreed registered Holsteins were capable of doing on twice a day feeding.
And when she and her calf crew switched to 3X feeding, daily gain increased but starter intake plummeted. Urine output, driven by the higher-solids volume of milk replacer being fed, also meant bedding was wet and a constant source of ammonia. Pneumonia sky-rocketed.
Utilizing milk that must be discarded from antibiotic-treated cows as calf feed has long been an efficient way to utilize a waste product and provide an excellent nutrition source to herd replacements.
It also has been a common belief that the antibiotics present in the milk serve as a growth-promoting factor preweaned calves. Yet, conversely, concerns have been raised that traces of antibiotics may disturb the microbial gut flora and interfere with normal rumen development in young calves.
The dairy industry needs to be proactive about humane animal care like pain management, according to Sandy Stuttgen, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension Agriculture Educator. If not, “our on-farm practices will be dictated to us,” she said.
The sight of bloody calf scours is a disturbing one, but the condition is not always fatal. University of Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory director Keith Poulsen says pinpointing the cause of scours through diagnostics is the best approach to effective treatment, and prevention of future cases.
“If you’re going to build a building, then you have to make it work for you, and you have to use the technology,” says Heidi Fischer, co-owner of Fischer-Clark Farms, adding that other farms they toured before building their facility were not necessarily doing that. “We were warned that going four-row might mean a colder barn in the wintertime, but because it’s mono-sloped to the south side with clear [polycarbonate] siding, if it’s -20°F outside, it can get as warm as 15.”