Thursday, February 28, 2019

Energy in Calf Starter Grain

Recently reported research (Quigley, J.D. and Others, "Estimates of calf starter energy affected by consumption of nutrients, 2. Effect of changing digestion on energy content in calf starters." Journal of Dairy Science 102:2242-2253 March 2019) suggest a caution for those of  us using the NRC 2001 standards for estimating gains for calf rations. 

Quigley and others suggest that "current estimates of energy in calf starters fed to 4 month of age may overestimate contribution of dry feed to overall energy metabolism in young calves." p2242.

I read this as cautioning us to take the gain estimates with a bit of caution [sometimes phrased, "with a grain of salt] when including significant amounts of calf starter grain in the ration.

We all look forward to the publication of new standards.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Effect of Heat Treating Colostrum

The research team at Penn State University compared the effects of heat treating colostrum using three qualities of colostrum (high 98g/L IgG's, medium 66g/L, low 52g/L). Note that even their lowest quality was above the industry standard of 50g/L for "adequate" colostrum quality. 

They varied the heat treatment time - one half was heat-treated for 30 minutes at 60C while the other half was heat-treated for 60 minutes. 

Heat treating decreased IgG concentrations but only by a small percentage. An average of 9 percent loss was present when heat-treated for 30 minutes and average loss of 12 percent when heat-treated for 60 minutes. Thus, even when these losses were subtracted from medium and high quality colostrum their values were well above the 50g/L industry threshold. 

Heat treating significantly decreased the bacteria both at 30 and 60 minutes of treatment with the longer treatment eliminating nearly all the bacteria. 

Further, heat-treating significantly improved the transfer rate of antibodies into the calves blood. 

Now. they also confirmed that as colostrum quality went up the total number of antibodies in calves went up - feed more, and more end up in the blood. [By the way, they fed 4 quarts to these calves within 60 to 90 minutes after birth.]

So, feeding high quality colostrum in significant volume shortly after birth actually works! Now, at the same time the percentage of antibodies fed compared to the volume that make it into the blood does take a hit with lots of high quality colostrum. The efficiency of absorption does go down when the gut is flooded with a bizzion (is that a number?) IgG's. 

From a practical point of view, I am aiming for the highest IgG level practical calf side on farm. The IgG's not absorbed can be high quality protein for the calf to digest.

Reference: Saldana. D.J., and Others "Effect of different heating times of high-, medium, and low-quality colostrum on immunoglobulin G absorption in dairy calves." Journal of Dairy Science 102:23068-2074 March 2019

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Calf Health: The Futile Search for the Silver Bullet

The February issue of the calf management newsletter focuses on best management practices. 
The summary points are:
·        Calf health goals
·        The futile search for THE cause of illness
·        Observing the “critical control points” for immunity
·        Observing the “critical control points” for pathogen exposure
·   “Ducks in a Row” management vs. the “silver bullet” to solve health problems
The url is


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Calf and Heifer Management
Online Course

Cornell ProDairy program announced an online course to run from March 29 through May 17, 2019.

The topics:
  • Calf nutrition Pre-weaning
  • Calf nutrition Post-weaning
  • Replacement economics
  • Colostrum management
  • Inventory management
  • Genetics
  • Calf health
  • Housing
Instructors include Mike Van Amburgh, Heather Huson, Curt Gooch, Jason Karszes, Rob Lynch, Kim Morrill and Margaret Quaassdorff.

Registration: $25 discount if register before March 11. Total cost $265 per person.

Full course information is at courses
click HERE or paste this url in your browser

links at the bottom of the page will give you more information on
  • Instructors
  • Technology requirements
  • Registration

Thursday, February 7, 2019

First 24 Hours - Getting it Right

I am giving a lecture on Friday, February 8th, for a class at SUNY Morrisville - a 2-year dairy program. The course, Heifer Management, has one week devoted to the young dairy calf.

My title is "First 24 Hours - Getting it Right."

A summary is:
1. The first 2  minutes - breathe
2. The first 10-30 minutes - adapting to the new environment
3. Managing Colostrum - the 5 "Q's"
  • Quickly
  • Quantity
  • Quality
  • Quantify (BSTP)
  • sQueaky clean
A copy of the powerpoint [English only] is available by sending an e-mail to - type First 24 Hours in the subject line of the e-mail.
Cold Weather Feeding Tips

Maureen Hanson has done a good job summarizing ideas for cold weather feeding for milk-fed calves. Her five main points:
1. Feeding delivery
2. Ration formulation and osmolality
3. Water
4. Mixing consistency
5. Feeding temperature

This review is at: 

or you can try