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The Manager - Calf Management

July 2019

Avoid summer struggles with calves
By Margaret Quaassdorff

Successful management of calves is all about the details that add up to create a healthy, profitable member of the milking herd. Beyond excessive heat, summer weather provides an environment that can challenge our calves with increased humidity, favorable conditions for pests and pathogens, and a higher incidence of disease due to these factors. In the summer, heat stress causes immune system depression in calves. In addition, calves born to heat-stressed dams absorb fewer antibodies, leading to higher rates of failed passive transfer of immunity. According to the DCHA Gold Standard performance goals, your calf program should strive to have a treatment rate of less than 10 percent of calves for pneumonia, and less than 15 percent of calves for scours with an overall survival rate of greater than 97 percent for calves up to weaning age.

Dry cow cooling also brings offspring benefits
By Rob Lynch, DVM

The dairy industry has known for years how important it is to provide supplemental cooling to dry cows. A 2016 study by Ferreira, et al. estimated New York dairy cows that experience heat stress during their dry period lose about 387 pounds of milk in their subsequent lactation. In 2018, Central New York experienced about 86 days of temperature and relative humidity high enough to cause significant heat stress in dairy cows. Unfortunately, many dry cow barns still have insufficient heat abatement strategies, and those farms will feel the economic impact. If a cow spends part of her dry period heat-stressed, not only will her next lactation performance decline, so will the performance of her calf, according to recent research.The dairy industry has known for years how important it is to provide supplemental cooling to dry cows. A 2016 study by Ferreira, et al. estimated New York dairy cows that experience heat stress during their dry period lose about 387 pounds of milk in their subsequent lactation. In 2018, Central New York experienced about 86 days of temperature and relative humidity high enough to cause significant heat stress in dairy cows. Unfortunately, many dry cow barns still have insufficient heat abatement strategies, and those farms will feel the economic impact. If a cow spends part of her dry period heat-stressed, not only will her next lactation performance decline, so will the performance of her calf, according to recent research.

Calf health treatment protocols, compliance and economic impact: Northern New York research results
By Kimberley Morrill

Throughout 2018, the Northern New York Regional Ag team conducted research to determine protocol compliance for calfhood illnesses on Northern New York dairy farms, determine the treatment cost associated with calfhood illness and to bring awareness to antibiotic stewardship to increase consumer confidence in our food supply.

Your cows' diet shouldn't be 'Like a box of chocolates': How to know what they're gonna get
By Kristan Reed

Forrest Gump’s momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” In a way, feeding cows is the same. You never really know the true composition of the feeds and diet that make it to the bunk or what makes it into each cow. However, with some discerning choices in purchased feeds and appropriate sampling protocols, you can significantly reduce the uncertainty in diet composition and reduce the risk of under- or overfeeding a certain nutrient. Many factors affect a plant’s dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP) or neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content, including differences in plant genetics, the soil in which it is grown, fertilizer application rates and methods, and the weather. A feed’s nutrient composition can also be influenced by harvest, processing and storage methods. In addition to all these identifiable causes of variation, there is also some degree of random, or unidentifiable variation.

Balancing family and business in farm transfer planning
By Anna Richards

As farm ownership progresses through generations, it becomes more and more likely that owners may have one or more children or heirs that are not actively involved in the business. While this is certainly not a bad thing in terms of their individual interests and goals, it can begin to pose a unique challenge in the context of estate and succession planning. Often, the majority of an individual business owner’s wealth is tied up in farm or farm-related assets. The challenge then becomes balancing the ability to pass wealth on to their family members with the ability of the business to continue to operate successfully.