Thursday, March 5, 2020

Videos: Raising Your Best Calf

Calf care and training videos on the theme " Raising Your Best Calf" are available (in English and Spanish) HERE or at the url

These videos were developed jointly by Cooperative Extension staff at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Iowa State University under the leadership of Jennifer Bentley, Kim Clark and Hugo Ramirez-Ramirez.

Topics include: (video for each topic in either English or Spanish)

Newborn Calf Care: Passive Immunity
                               : Processing of Newborn Calves
                               : Harvest and Storage of Colostrum
                               : Evaluation of Colostrum Quality
                               : Recommended Colostrum Feeding Techniques
                               : Using the Esophageal Tube Feeder
                               : Evaluation of Protein Absorption from Colostrum

Hygiene: Environments for Pathogens
             : Monitoring Hygiene

Stress Handling: Introduction
                         : Flight Zone
                         : Point of Balance
                         : Newborn calf handling
                         : Heat and Cold Stress
                         : Transportation

Automatic Calf Feeders: Management
                                      : Facilities
                                      : Nutrition
                                      : Health
                                      : Cleaning and Sanitation
                                      : Summary

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Using pain mitigation when disbudding calves

This is the title of a "easy-read" article by Dr. Charlotte Winder (University of Guelph).
Paragraph headings are:
  • What drugs are effective for pain control?
  • What about sedatives?
  • Does it matter what method I use?
  • Does it matter how old the calves are?
She says the "take-home" messages are:
  • Work with your herd vet to develop disbudding protocols for your farm.
  • Ensure calves are healthy at the time of the procedure.
  • Disbud calves well ahead of weaning or moving.
  • Make sure people performing this procedure are comfortable with both administering pain control and performing disbudding.
Full article appeared in February 25, 2020 issues of Progressive Dairy, pp 60-61

The URL is
or click HERE

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Five Must Haves for Rumen Development

This is the title of a good article summarizing the basics of rumen development in young dairy replacement calves.

It is HERE or use this URL


Friday, February 21, 2020

Newborn calf immunity: How well is your Colostrum
Management program working?

The key points:
  • Test, don't guess.
  • Sampling vs. blanket blood draws.
  • Use the results.
The February calf management newsletter is now posted at 
or click HERE

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

"More colostrum is helpful, but don't force it"

This is the title of a short article, actually the "Veterinary Column" in the February 25 issue of Hoard's Dairyman magazine by Dr. Ollivett, University of Wisconsin.

Terry was responding to a question about the volume of colostrum to feed calves. If you receive this magazine you will want to go to the very back page of this Feb 25 issue. She has sound practical advice. 

I tried to find a way to access this column via the web without success. So, if you do not receive Hoard's maybe you can borrow it from a neighboring dairy.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Calves and Bicycle Wheels
Number 6 of a six-part series on calf health

This is a fun series on calf health. Click  HERE     to go to Number 6 - Sanitation

All six of the series have now been posted at the Calf Management site on
Go to the site, select the RESOURCES drop down menu, chose Calf Management Newsletter for all six in the series. 


Friday, February 14, 2020

Calves and Bicycle Wheels
Number 5 of a six-part series on calf health

This is a fun series on calf health. Click  HERE     to go to Number 5 - Vaccination

Part six will be posted on Monday, February 17th.


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Calves and Bicycle Wheels
Number 4 of a six-part series on calf health

This is a fun series on calf health. Click   HERE  to go to Number 4 Air Quality or use URL

They will be posted daily.

Calves and Bicycle Wheels
Number 3 of a six-part series on calf health

This is a fun series on calf health. Click HERE to go to Number 3 - Bedding

They will be posted daily.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Calves and Bicycle Wheels
Number 2 of a six-part series on calf health

This is a fun series on calf health. Click HERE to go to Number 2 - Calories
The URL is

They will be posted daily.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Calves and Bicycle Wheels
Number 1 of a six-part series on calf health

This is a fun series on calf health. Click HERE to go to Number 1 - Colostrum.
The URL is

They will be posted daily.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Three Colostrum Myths Debunked

This is the title of an article by Sarah Morrison from the W.H. Miner Institute (see URL below)

The three myths are:
  • High volume means low quality.
  • First calf heifer colostrum should not be used.
  • Route of administration determines absorption rate.
Enjoy - well written article. 

Monday, February 3, 2020

Newborn Care - Video by Ann Hoskins

Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus, produced a short video showing the procedures followed for newborn calves on a Wisconsin dairy. Good narrative - good video - worth your 5 minutes to be reminded of the basics. 

Here is the url


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Pneumonia - Why?

The URL below is to an article about pneumonia - the title explains the content. It contain several really good graphics and a picture that are well work viewing.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

How Much Calf Starter is Needed to 
Meet Maintenance Demands?

I just read a recommendation in a popular dairy magazine that recommended weaning calves as soon as they have reached a calf starter intake level of 2-3 pounds a day.

The name for this recommendation is STARVATION! 

Let's take a second to look at the facts.

Assume you have done a good job preweaning and the heifer calf has doubled her birth weight by 56 days - 90lbs to 180lbs. At this age she has been gaining about 2 pounds a day.

Feeding a 18%cp calf starter grain how much weight is this weaned heifer calf going to gain per day at these concentrate consumption levels? ("as-fed" starter grain weights)

Summer (60F or greater)           Cold Weather (around freezing)
Pounds per day                           Pounds per day
Eaten     Estimated Gain             Eaten          Estimated Gain
2#          Weight Loss                  2#               Weight Loss
3#           1/2 pound gain             3#               Weight Loss
4#           1 pound                        4#                0.3 pound gain
5#           1.5 pounds                   5#                 0.9 pounds

Want to set up just-weaned heifers for pneumonia? Follow this recommendation to fully wean when eating 2-3 pounds starter per day.

Hey! Sam's Back!

Cancer surgery went well! I'm back on my feet (well, chair in front of computer) and my fingers seem to be connected to my brain so keyboarding is going well. Don't try to keyboard too soon after anesthesia and on pain meds - bad, bad, bad!

Thanks for hanging in there with me - I hope to have lots more fun in the coming weeks.

Monday, January 13, 2020

"Feed for More Than Maintenance"
January 2020 calf mgt newsletter

The primary points in this newsletter:
  • ·         Maintenance = keep core body temperature at 101°F, replace cells, eat and breathe.
  • ·         Growth = make new cells to support immunity and get bigger.
  • ·        For our youngest calves, as environmental temperatures fall below 60°F they burn energy to maintain core body temperature – see bar chart on page one.
  • ·          In order to improve immunity to replace protection from colostrum, our youngest calves need lots of energy beyond maintenance.
     Or, click HERE.

Sam's Away, Again!

I was off between December 23 and January 6 due to surgery to remove a cancerous lesion on my tongue. Surgery was successful - 100% gone - Doctor-speak = clean margins. I am so thankful to be healed enough to eat soft solid foods rather than clear fluids. Yeah!

Thank you so much for all the folks that logged in on Jan 6-7 to check on me.

I am going to be off again between January 14 and Jan 23-24 for follow-up surgery to remove some lymph nodes in my neck - this will confirm that the cancer did not spread from my tongue.

Again, please do your homework and send an e-mail to with ideas for future blogs. 
Another Checklist
"Herd Health Plan Checklist"

This checklist is from, a veal-oriented site but nevertheless a site with good advice. 

It has 11 items including protocols, staff training and record keeping. It may not apply 100% to your operation but it might just remind you of an overlooked item.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Getting New Employees Off to a Good Start

Nearly all of us have been at some time our life a "new" employee. So much to take in those first few days!

During an interview with Brian Gerrits, CEO of Breeze Dairy Group [quoted in November 29 issue of Progressive Dairy, p 33] he was commenting on a major improvement in their dairy's human resource management program made by his daughter-in-law, Katie. He observed,

"Onboarding - A new employee's first day at work should not include any actual work. Instead, we (Breeze Dairy) dedicate that time to educate them about who we are and what's important to us. We show them around the farm and introduce them to the rest of the team. Our people are truly our most important asset . A good onboarding process results in enhanced job statisfaction and retention, improved performance and increased productivity."

So, time spent at the beginning of employment to "on-board" new workers can have significant value.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

DeHorning Guidelines from AABP

The new (2020) guidelines for dehorning from American Association of Bovine Practictitioners (AABP) are at this URL

They deal with
1. Restraint
2. Method
3. Pain Management
    *Local anesthesia
    *Systemic pain relief

Start the new year by reviewing these new guidelines with your herd veterinarian. 
Sam's Back
At least for this week!

After unscheduled cancer surgery on December 23 I am back at my desk. Lots of high fives at January 6 post-op visit in "Cancer Ward Language" - "clean margins" on the tongue surgery. I am due for follow-up lymph node surgery on Jan 14 so I will be off-line for a week or do after that.