Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Scouring Calves Need Free-Choice

Sarah Morrison (W.H.Miner Agricultural Research Institute) recently reported on a study she completed while at the University of Illinois.

The key point that caught my attention was that even while scouring calves were receiving milk replacer and oral electrolytes they also drank free-choice water. 

The free-water intake of these calves was recorded during the first 21 days at the research facility. Probably arriving at 3 to 5 days of age at arrival so the observation period was probably from 4 to 25 days old. 

All the calves drank water. Overall, for the 21-day period it came to 12 gallons per calf. She noted that the calves with scours averaged an extra gallon of water compared to non-scouring calves.

Bottom Line? Make sure ALL the calves have water 24/7 if possible. Especially scouring calves, give them a chance to re-hydrate naturally on their own by sipping free-choice water in addition to their milk and electrolyte feedings. 

Reference: Sarah Morrision "Calves with diarrhea have different intake, growth and efficiency" November Farm Report, William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, p3.

The url for this report:

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Rumen Development
No Short-cuts Available

In a well-designed research project dairy calves were weaned either abruptly (7 days at half milk ration) or gradually (7 days at 60% followed by 7 more days at 30%).

Using several measures they estimated rumen development and ability to digest solid feeds. 

The calves with the longer weaning period had superior rumen development at the end of the weaning period.

No surprise. The calves need to be eating a measurable amount of solid feed for at least three weeks before the end of milk feeding in order to have a level of rumen function that allows for replacing the energy from milk with that from solid feed. No short-cuts available. Biology always wins, no cheating.

Another research group suggests that a calf starter grain intake of at least 4.5 pounds per day is desirable for moving from a milk+grain ration to a 100% grain ration if consistent gain is desired (assumes moderate environmental temperature).

Reference: Klopp, R. N. and Others, "Effects of feeding different amounts of milk replacer on growth performance and nutrient digestibility in Holstein calves to 2 months of age using different weaning strategies." Journal of Dairy Science 102:11040-11050 December 2019.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Great Place to Browse for Calf Resources

I just spent some time looking up resources at this location:

The Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service sponsors this site through their dairy team.

Great variety of resources on both calves and heifers. Text, pictures and video resources. Take a look - you will be tempted to go from one click to another.

Ration Guidelines for 2-4 Month-Old Heifers

In a presentation to a dairy audience in Minnesota Dr. Trevor DeVries (as reported in Progressive Dairy November 7, 2019, p 49) suggested these guidelines for 2-4 month-old heifers when we have a growth goal of about 2.5 pounds a day gain:
  • 85 percent of dry matter intake (DMI) should come from concentrated feed.
  • Do not use fermented feeds in the ration for this age heifers because "they are too high in moisture and calves are not able to eat enough to achieve an appropriate level of dry matter."
  • Use a "dry" TMR that contains concentrate and chopped dry forage such as straw or hay. Dry TMR can be made in large batches, stored and fed out daily without concerns of "heating" common for high moisture TMR's.  
  • Forage particle size in dry TMR should be limited to 1" in length to discourage sorting and should be well mixed in the TMR.
  • Remember to keep TMR in front of the calves (do not feed to a clean bunk) in order to discourage calves from developing the bad habit of "slug feeding."

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Good Review on Feeding Pasteurized
Milk to Calves

"Benefits and drawbacks of feeding pasteurized milk to calves" is the title of an article by Ellan Dufour (Progressive Dairy, November 7, 2019 pp 41-42" that does a great job of summarizing a lot of good information on pasteurized milk feeding.
  • How pasteurization works
  • Types of pasteurizers including batch pasteurization, continouous flow or HTST pasteurization, colostrum pasteurization
  • The benefits of feeding pasteurized waste milk
  • The drawbacks of feeding pasteurized waste milk.
Here is the URL

Monday, November 25, 2019

More Milk = Longer Weaning Time

Dr. Trevor DeVries at a dairy conference in Minnesota summarized his thoughts relating levels of milk intake of preweaned calves to method of reducing milk intake, weaning timing, feed type and housing management. [as reported in Progressive Dairy, November 7, 2019, pp49-50]

He observed that when calves are fed enough milk to achieve a 2 pounds a day gain from milk their initial calf starter grain intake is delayed. That means different weaning management is needed compared to calves that are limit-fed milk.

Recall, our goal for calves being weaned is to maintain a level amount of usable energy for the calves both before and after weaning - a consistent level. If we get a drop in energy at weaning we will see an undesirable drop in growth as well.

His research showed that among calves fed for high rates of gain preweaning (high milk feeding) when calves weaned at 8 weeks of age (reduced milk ration spread over 2 weeks) were compared to those weaned earlier at 6 weeks later and longer weaning resulted in maintained their growth rates through the weaning process.

His calf starter grain intake goal at the time all milk feeding is ended is 4.5 pounds of calf starter gain daily. [I can add here this should be higher during cold weather months.]

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Keep Milk Warm in Cold Weather 

At this URL you will find a 1-2-3 summary of ideas focused on keeping milk warm on cold days - hit that 100-105 degrees goal for every calf fed. 
Here is URL

Ann Hoskins from Vita Plus has done a great job summarizing practical ways to be sure the milk fed to calves is the temperature it should be even in cold weather conditions. 

On really cold days (wind chill below 0 F) in order to feed warm milk to all the calves I had to mix my milk replace in multiple batches - mix a batch, go out and feed it (hutches), come back in (get warm) and mix another batch, repeat three times until finished.

Regardless of environmental conditions I always put bottles for the youngest bottle-fed calves into 5-gallon pails of 105-110 F water (4 to a pail). 

When I did not have help for bucket training the five or so young calves I ended up feeding them one at a time after the rest of the calves were fed. I observed that if I filled the milk pails for these five calves at the beginning of feeding chores I was almost always feeding cold milk to them. However, if I put the bottles into a 5-gallon pail of warm water even the last calf received 100-105 milk once I poured the milk into a feeding bucket.