ISU Extension and Outreach training videos are available in both English and Spanish
AMES, Iowa – Having properly trained employees is critical for the health, growth and development of dairy calves and for the profitability and sustainability of a dairy farm. A new series of resources is available through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to provide training in calf management including; newborn calf care, colostrum management, calf nutrition, animal handling, automatic calf feeder management and hygiene and sanitation. Each of the videos are less than 3 minutes in length, utilizing video demonstration of on farm practices to emphasize key calf management practices.
Veterinarians Edwin and Rikke Engelbrecht visited three Northwest Iowa dairies on their way to the American Association of Bovine Practitioners annual conference in Omaha, Nebraska last week. The Engelbrechts have a multi-clinic practice in Denmark that specializes in dairy health. They consult with herds across Europe, with Nikke specializing in calf and heifer issues while Edwin focuses on the milking herd.
With the arrival of summer temperatures, producers are reminded that water plays an essential role in a healthy calf including rumen development. Healthy calves under heat stress will drink between 6 and 12 quarts of water daily just to maintain normal hydration. Severely sick calves under heat stress sometimes require up to 20 quarts replacing what has been lost. According to the National Dairy FARM program Animal Care Manual Version 3.0 (2016), best practice is to provide calves access to clean, fresh water from the first day of life. However, according to the National Dairy Health Monitoring System (USDA, 2014), the average age of heifers when first offered water in the United States is 17.3 days.
When we think of temperature stress on calves, the common concern is cold, but as temperatures are moving to the 900F mark this week, producers need to remember soaring summer temperatures, hot sun, and high humidity can cause heat stress in calves and heifers just as in the milking herd. Reduced feed intake and increased maintenance energy needs coupled with lowered immunity can lead to poor growth, higher susceptibility to disease, and in extreme cases death.