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.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Avoid Teaching Calves to Slug Feed Starter

Amazing as it may seem, research (Univ. British Columbia) has demonstrated that habits learned as calves frequently carry over into later life - even to adulthood. 

One of the habits (and not a good one) is slug feeding.

You may say, "But, I never teach my calves to slug feed calf starter."

But, empty starter grain pails do just that. Calves learn quickly to deal with empty grain pails. "Eat up! There may not be more!" When we allow the calf starter grain pails to go empty we are signally to calves to "eat up in a hurry" when we next feed grain.

Of course it makes sense to feed at a rate close to consumption. That way we minimize the amount of grain we have to dump.

With my own calves my practice with calves eating grain regularly was to feed at a rate that the pail was never empty (if possible). "Yes," now and again a calf fooled me and licked the pail clean. I worked hard to dump grain pails twice a week in order to avoid wet grain and spoilage. This "left-over" grain went to an older heifer pen. My 6 to 8 week old calves on reduced milk rations usually were eating nearly 5 to 8 pounds per day so the challenge often was to provide enough grain so the buckets did not run out completely.

This management protocol does assume that you do not just fill a grain pail half full or more when the newborn calf goes into her pen (hutch). 

By the way, remember that in order to optimize grain intake calves need free-choice water all seasons of the year.

Friday, November 15, 2019

All Colostrum is Not the Same

Recently published work (A. Soufieri and Others, "Genetic parameters of colostrum traits in Holstein dairy cows." Journal of Dairy Science, 102:11225-11232, 2019) collected colostrum samples from 1,047 healthy Holstein dairy cows. 

The  yield was recorded as well as Brix values obtained from each cow's first milking. Laboratory analysis determined  both fat and protein content.

Yield The median yield was 5kg (about 6.3 quarts). The lowest yield was less than 1 quart while the highest yield was nearly 11 quarts (23.5kg).

Brix values  The median Brix was 25.9. The lowest Brix was 10.7 and the highest Brix was 41.4.

Fat percentage  The median fat was 6%. The lowest fat was less than 0.1% while the highest fat percentage was 18.2%.

Protein percentage  The median protein was 17.9%. The lowest protein was 4.8% while the highest protein percentage was 30.4%.

Conclusion? All colostrum is not the same. Keep using your Brix refractometer to sort colostrum before using for first feeding.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The "When" for Oral Electrolytes
November 2019 Calf Management Newsletter

The main points in the letter:
·        Electrolytes are only helpful if the calf drinks them.
·        The most important ingredient in an oral electrolyte feeding is water.
·        As soon as a calf’s manure will no longer stay on top of her bedding she may be losing more fluid than she is consuming – it is electrolyte time!
·        What other criteria make sense when deciding which calves receive electrolyte feedings?
·        How does electrolyte feeding fit into the daily routine?
·        Calves should still have access to free-choice water when receiving oral electrolytes and we should continue our regular milk feeding protocol.

The link to the letter is HERE or use this URL

Monday, November 4, 2019

Advice on managing abomasal bloat

In a recent webinar sponsored by the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association Dr. Brian Miller made several practical suggestions for managing abomasal bloat.

The webinar summary prepared by Hoard's Dairyman is entitiled "Calf Feeding Consistency is Key." I think you will find Dr. Miller's suggestions both practical and possible to implement. 

Dr, Miller summarizes his advice:
Once you have the right milk to deliver, ensuring consistent feeding can make all the difference in preventing bacteria and fermentation enzymes from running rampant on the calf’s stomach.

The link to the summary is