In This Issue Vol. 44 No. 8 • August 2018
6 Publisher Statement 8 Industry News
Trending news from around the dairy world.
Vaccination Protocol Consideration
By Michael Cox for American Dairymen Magazine
As dairymen, we are all too familiar with the lost time and stress a disease outbreak in the herd can create for ourselves and the farm team. Thanks to modern medicine, many animal health diseases are now almost fully preventable through using a comprehensive and properly administered vaccination program.
10 22 26
Early Weaning saves Time and Money
26 August 2018
A key for a dairy calf to begin a healthy productive life is the proper amount of quality colostrum delivered at the correct time enhancing the ability to develop immunity to disease. There are some management practices that can be used including vaccinations, parasite, etc. to enhance the chances of a calf continuing to enjoy a healthy, stress free, productive life.
Protecting Fertility in the Summer Heat
The Importance of Management Systems to your Calves’ Health By Bruce Derksen for American Dairymen Magazine
By Jaclyn Krymowski for American Dairymen Magazine
The stress of excessive heat is an obvious concern for the animals’ welfare and efficient milk production. But the shadow of its impact reaches as far as reproduction. An understanding of how the rising mercury interacts with a cow’s reproductive physiology is necessary to prevent major fertility and heat detection losses.
By Aly McClure for American Dairymen Magazine
Doing what you love makes it easier to get through lean times, but changing some of your production practices can help ease financial restraints.
Sponsored Features Take your Fly Control Efforts to the Next Level Article provided by Central Life Sciences- Starbar
Flies on a dairy are more than just a nuisance, they contribute to a loss in production, spread diseases and annoy both your herd and employees. Protecting your dairy against fly infestations can make for a better work environment and keep your cows – and profits – healthy.
Publisher Statement American
Products and Services
Vol. 44 No. 8 • August 2018
I looked at the calendar this morning and just
President/CEO Gale McKinney
shook my head in disbelief. As I sit here writing this
VP/CFO Audra McKinney
month’s statement we are nearing the middle of July. Maybe it is the whacky weather we have been having
Group Publisher/COO Patrick McKinney
in the Midwest lately, but it seems like yesterday the
Publisher Dustin Hector
kids had their last day of school and summer was just starting. Time flies when you are having fun!
Controller Robert Reedy
Do you want to know the best part about July? I have two favorites
Office Manager Dawn Busse
actually. First of all, nothing really beats the Fourth of July celebrations and fireworks…nothing more American then celebrating our independence
Art Director Brandon Peterson
with things that explode, am I right? My celebration usually consists of my favorite cut of beef on the grill as well as a few of my preferred drinks, which I will leave to your imagination. My second favorite part of July is all the county fairs are in full swing. Lots of time goes into prepping for the fair. Long hours doing some tedious tasks like washing, brushing, working on showmanship, etc and then pinning your hopes on a few minutes, or seconds, and believing all your time will be rewarded. It gives me great joy to see all the kids being so passionate about their livestock too.
Graphic Designer Teri Marsh Advertising Account Executives Lori Seibert Kathy Davidson Mary Gatliff Irene Smith Wendy Mills Joyce Kenney Ed Junker Kendra Sassman
In closing, I know there have been a lot of areas affected by Mother Nature
Circulation Coordinator Shawna Nelson
since our last issue came out. If there is any way that we can help out we will gladly do so. One thing that has been evident in my time working at American Dairymen is the strong bond that ties this industry together.
for American Dairymen
Contributing Writers Bruce Derksen, Michael Cox, Jaclyn Krymowski, Steve Weisman, Aly McClure
When times get tough, this industry rallies around each other and supports one another. It amazes me watching strangers helping strangers for the good of the industry. So please, if there is anything we can do to help don’t hesitate to ask. From all of us at American Dairymen we wish you a happy and safe fair season. May all your hard work and dedication be rewarded. As always, if you have suggestions or comments about topics you would like written about or areas covered, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Best Regards, Dustin Hector Publisher – American Dairymen
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©Twin Rivers Media, LLC, 2018. All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recorded or otherwise without the prior written permission of Twin Rivers Media, LLC, 2018. The information and advertising set forth herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Twin Rivers Media, LLC, 2018 (“Publisher”) however, does not warrant complete accuracy of such information and assumes no responsibility for any consequences arising from the use thereof or reliance thereon. Publisher reserves the right to reject or cancel any advertisement or space reservation at any time without notice and for any reason. Publisher shall not be liable for any costs or damages if for any reason it fails to publish an advertisement. Advertisers are solely responsible for the content of their respective advertisements appearing in this publication and Publisher is not responsible or liable in any manner for inaccuracies, false statements or any material in such advertisement infringing upon the intellectual property rights of others. Advertisements appearing in this publication are not necessarily the views or opinions expressed by Publisher.
Industry News “Purity and quality have always been a priority in our seed. We can trace each lot back to the field it was grown in and in most instances through the inbreds used to grow them as well. Already having these things in place helped us in determining which lots to submit for Non-GMO Project verification.” - Cheryl Foeller Masters Choice, General Manager Non-GMO Project verified products have become one of the fastest growing sectors in a $19 billion market. With limited non-GMO verified options in the seed corn i ndu s t r y Ma s ter s Choic e h a s worked to offer a full range seed corn lineup for producers in search of potential premiums.
Masters Choice carrying line of Non-GMO Project verified seed corn Article courtesy of Masters Choice Masters Choice now car r ies the largest and most diverse line of Non-GMO Project verified seed corn in North America. Though the consumer non-GMO market is increasing rapidly and represents over $19 billion in sales, only three seed corn companies currently carry Non-GMO Project verified seed corn options for growers. Masters Choice carries the largest and most diverse lineup spanning from 82 to 117 days in maturity. The Non-GMO Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building and protecting a non-GMO food supply. Since 2007 they have made great strides in developing science based standardized definitions for non-GMO products in the North American food industry. Non-GMO Project verified seed corn is tested for every trait on the market and has a tolerance level of only .025%.
“Yes, it’s a timely and costly process, but there are a lot of integrators requiring non-GMO Project verified seed and we see that this can open up premium opportunities for our growers in a time when premium opportunities are limited.” - Kevin Koone Masters Choice CEO
Fo r m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n o n non-GMO project seed corn options please contact, Kyle Vosburgh, R&D Associate 305 W Vienna Street Anna, IL 62906 email@example.com
Even with an already large line of non-GMO and organic corn hybrids, Masters Choice increased measures to assure they met Non-GMO Project verification standards. Over 92% of the corn acres in the United States are traited so meeting a tolerance of .025% is difficult. To get a non-GMO production field certified you need a 660-foot buffer, Masters Choice has a minimum standard buffer of 1000 feet. They are also very careful with timing of pollination to maintain genetic purity in their fields.
The Importance of Management Systems to Your Calves’ Health By Bruce Derksen for American Dairymen Magazine
key for a dairy calf to begin a healthy productive life is the proper amount of quality colostrum delivered at the correct time enhancing the ability to develop immunity to disease. Assuming that this has taken place, there are some management practices that can be used including vaccinations, parasite and fly control, bio-security, consistency, isolation, stress control and cleanliness to enhance the chances of a calf continuing to enjoy a healthy, stress free, productive life. Generally speaking, a dair y calf’s good health throughout their life should be enough to deliver the desired result. A good first step toward this goal is a vaccination program, but even though it would be so much easier, there really is no such thing as a universal
vaccination system. Each farm, area and herd is different and a plan must be tailored specifically to each dairy’s unique needs and requirements. From the moment of birth, calves are exposed to infectious organisms, and their natural defence mechanisms are designed to
block the establishment of disease, but things don’t always go the way they are planned and at times sickness will take hold. Be on guard against scours and regularly check your calves body temperatures to assist in the observations and diagnosis of potential clinical problems like pneumonia and work with your veterinarian to establish a vaccination plan designed for your farm’s needs. Through the summer season, heat stress can weaken a calf’s immunity and make them susceptible to bacterial infections. Calves do best when their thermal environment is * Continued on page 12
between approximately 55 F and 78 F. Above this temperature they use more energy to reduce body heat through sweating and increased respiratory rate causing feed intake to drop which in turn directs less of the nutrients ingested to assist in growth rate. If using hutches, make sure they are designed to keep calves dry and protected from environmental conditions along with having proper air flow keeping them cooler in the hot summer and allowing for solar heating with protection from winds and drafts in the colder winter months. Overall cleanliness and proper bedding is extremely important in a calf’s fight against disease. Straw is a fine bedding material but will usually present a higher fly and parasite infestation. Sand and shavings will keep calves cooler with less fly issues but will not control moisture as well as straw. Whatever choice suits your operation, make sure the bedding is changed often, stalls, pens and hutches are disinfected and dried and ensure any organic materials are removed, especially between different calves. Concentrate on feed and water areas to control fly populations and if necessary improve drainage to eliminate water required for maggot growth. Bio-security and isolation for young calves by limiting access to designated care givers will help control the spread of disease from different farms or areas of your 12
own dairy. Calves of diverse ages possess varying degrees of disease resistance so try to limit physical contact between older and younger calves through the first three to four months of life. Keep hutches far enough apart to prohibit intermingling of calves and design them for easy cleaning and sanitizing, convenient access to feed and water, and open to a care giver’s observation promoting a stress free and comfortable situation for each calf. Take the time and effort to be organized with a good record keeping process that allows all workers to be aware of vaccination and treatment information pertinent to the health of each animal, plus any other valuable information that could affect the calves well -being. All these basic management practices can have a drastic effect on the health of dairy calves so have an honest, realistic look at your operation and try to recognize what you are doing well and also what might be improved. Although it’s not feasible and realistic for every dairy to be able to use each and every management skill mentioned or otherwise discovered, even a small step in the right direction can yield dividends. In a concerned world that wants assurance of proper care of our animals, it’s important we use good management practices promoting the dairy industry in the best possible light.
Partnering with Producers for Success
Take Your Fly Control Efforts to the Next Level Article provided by Central Life Sciences- Starbar
lies on a dairy are more than just a nuisance, they contribute to a loss in production, spread diseases and annoy both your herd and employees. Protecting your dairy against fly infestations can make for a better work environment and keep your cows – and profits – healthy.
When getting started on a f ly control plan, it is important to realize that flies exhibit different behaviors in different locations on an operation. This means fly control efforts should be tailored specifically to the different levels of your operation – from the rafters of your barn to the grass on your pasture. To protect all levels of your operation from costly fly infestations, it is important to learn where to treat, why to treat — and, of course, what products to use to manage disease-spreading fly populations on your dairy.
Where: Ceilings, attics & rafters Why: Flies rest here. After
or angled ceiling of your barn, out of reach of people and livestock. On flat and angled ceilings, the rafters are a great place to hang traps, capturing the flies that land here.
feeding, flies have a tendency to rest up high in the cooler regions of barns, stables and other out buildings. What: With bright colors that lure flies in to land and without the use of chemicals or attractants, Starbar® sticky traps are specifically designed to trap flies up high where they rest. Hang sticky traps like the EZ Trap® Fly Trap up high in the rafters, joists
Where: Walls, fences & corrals Why: Flies mate here. In between www.americandairymen.com
feeding and resting, flies use this level to breed. With the house fly alone laying 150 eggs each batch, it’s important to catch these flies before they move on to lay their eggs in the manure around your dairy. What: Odor and pheromone traps have the power to lure f lies away from your livestock and provide quick and effective control. Durable and easy to use, the Starbar ® Captivator ® Fly Trap comes complete with a water-soluble attractant pouch that flies can’t resist. For best results, hang these traps along fence lines or near calf hutches. Short walls and shelves in barns, stables and other out buildings are also ideal spots for these odor and pheromone traps.
Where: Floors, ledges, gates & off the ground Why: Flies eat here. After resting up high, flies will come near the ground level to begin feeding. House flies feed freely on human food, fresh animal waste and rotting garbage. Make sure to clean these food sources up and begin using a fly bait as well as traps for complete control. What: Rotation! This low level is ideal for using a fly bait. When using any fly bait, implementing a proper rotation plan is essential in fighting against resistance— allowing for even greater control. The key to implementing a true fly bait rotation program is to make sure you’re using baits with different active ingredients, as well as different modes of action. Rotating fly baits with these different properties reinforces the fight against resistance and boosts fly control results. The leader in fly bait for more than 40 years, Golden Malrin® Fly Bait lures flies in with the Muscamone® www.americandairymen.com
fly attractant, then kills them with its active ingredient, methomyl. An ideal rotation partner for Golden Malrin® Fly Bait, QuikStrike® Fly Bait contains the active ingredient Dinotefuran and attracts flies with (Z)-9-triocosene. The newest product to join the Starbar lineup, Cyanarox™ Insecticidal Bait is able to control up to 95 flies with a single pellet. Made with the active ingredient cyantraniliprole, Cyanarox™ Insecticidal Bait can be used in rotation with QuikStrike® Fly Bait and Golden Malrin® Fly Bait to form a formidable, three-pronged rotational approach to manage against resistance. For best results, these fly baits should be rotated within the same active fly season, rather than alternated by year. Spread or scatter your fly bait along open floor space in areas that are out of reach for livestock, pets and humans or use with a Starbar® Fly Bait Station.
IN, ON & AROUND
Where: On-animal, pasture, crops, standing water & structures Why: Insects live here. When a fly infestation hits a dairy, populations will quickly spread throughout the property. From barns to pasture, and even applications directly to your
herd— a successful fly control plan relies on treating all of these areas. What: To hit flies directly where they develop and drastically reduce fly populations, use a feed-through fly control product like ClariFly ® Lar vicide. Unlike conventional insecticides that attack the nervous system of insects, ClariFly® Larvicide works by interrupting the fly’s life cycle, rather than through direct toxicity. When mixed into cattle feed, ClariFly ® Larvicide passes through the digestive system and into the manure. To extend control to the whole herd, use a feed-through product for your calves as well— reducing fly populations around calf hutches. Using ClariFly® Add-Pack in whole milk or milk replacer helps increase calf comfort and decrease the spread of disease. Like every fly control plan, there is no “silver bullet” product to eliminate all fly populations. The most successful results are seen when products are used within a comprehensive integrated pest management program (IPM) that includes biological, physical-mechanical and cultural efforts to reinforce your fly control. By knowing how and where to apply different production options, you can take your fly control efforts to the next level. To learn more, visit StarbarProducts.com. Always read and follow label directions. ClariFly, Cyanarox, Golden Malrin, Muscamone, QuikStrike, Starbar and Starbar with design are trademarks of Wellmark International. Captivator, EZ Trap, and the Red-Yellow Color Gradation are trademarks of Farnam Companies, Inc. ©2018 Wellmark International.
Vaccination Protocol Considerations By Michael Cox for American Dairymen Magazine
n ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure,’ is an expression that rings true for animal health. As dairymen, we are all too familiar with the lost time and stress a disease outbreak in the herd can create for ourselves and the farm team. Being proactive and assessing what disease risks are troublesome to your farm is time well spent. Thanks to modern medicine, many animal health diseases are now almost fully preventable through using a comprehensive and properly administered vaccination program. In this article, we will look at some of the considerations involved in designing a robust vaccination protocol to help protect both your herd and the farm team from the stresses of poor animal health.
Consulting with your veterinarian and/or local extension officer is an important first step to designing a vaccination schedule. With such a myriad of different vaccines available on the market nowadays, producers need to plan out how and when certain vaccines will be administered to different groups of cows. Advice from your veterinarian
can help mitigate issues such as ‘over-stacking’ vaccines caused by jabbing too many vaccines on the same day.
Vaccines can work wonders in preventing illnesses, but their success relies on administration at the optimum time to animals at different stages of the lactation and
dry periods. Advice from University of Missouri Extension suggests that the dry period is perhaps the most convenient and effective time to vaccinate adult cows. Vaccinating during the early dry period will ensure that all cows are being targeted at the same stage of the production cycle. This has several benefits; no loss of milk production will occur as cows are dry, all cows in the group can be given booster vaccines at the same time near the end of the dry period, immunoglobin levels in colostrum will be increased due to cows reacting to the vaccine and strong immunity will be present in the following lactation and breeding periods.
Most veterinarians will suggest a base vaccination protocol to target the most common and potentially threatening diseases. These include * Continued on page 20
bov ine v ir us diar rhea (BV D), leptospirosis, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) and para-inf luenza (PI3). While it is beneficial to have these vaccines administered pre-breeding, care should be taken to ensure that vaccine reactions do not interfere with breeding performance. For example, if using a Modified Live Vaccine for IBR, the full immunization program must be complete at least one month prior to breeding, as normal ovary and follicle development will be disrupted while the cow responds to the vaccine. It is also crucial to check if vaccines can be given to pregnant or open cows, as some vaccines can create abortion risks in heavily pregnant cows.
Farm Specific vaccines
Once the base level of common disease risks has been accounted for, vaccination protocols should aim to target farm-specific challenges. For some farms that may include vaccines for scours caused by rotavirus, salmonella or coronavirus. Clostridial diseases, pinkeye, E-Coli mastitis and mycoplasma bovis are just several other disease risks that may or may not require vaccination protection on individual farms. Autogenous vaccines are another option for serious cases of disease outbreaks on individual farms. Producers can work with their veterinarians to develop a specific, special autogenous vaccine to combat a particularly challenging disease. For example, culture samples from a farm suffering Mycoplasma bovis or pinkeye outbreaks can be used to develop a unique vaccine solely for use to target the disease strain on that
specific farm. As this type of vaccine is only available for special cases, there is a large amount of protocol and regulations to follow while the vaccine is cultured and developed, so close consultation with a good veterinary practice will be crucial.
South Dakota State University Extension suggests that implementing an inactive booster vaccine after an initial modified live vaccine shot can offer better herd immunity compared to two shots of modified live vaccine. The purpose of the
Vaccinating during the early dry period will ensure that all cows are being targeted at the same stage of the production cycle. booster is to ‘top-up’ the immunity in animals that had a poor response to the initial shot. For animals that responded well to the initial shot, the booster will add little further improvement. However, the overall herd immunity will be raised significantly by the use of booster vaccines. Regardless of what protocol is developed and implemented, dairymen should aim to avoid ‘procedural slip’. In other words, it is vital that the vaccination protocol is actually correctly followed and implemented by the people doing the hands-on work. Having a wonderful protocol printed off in the office is of little use if the farm team are not on the same page, literally. The best possible herd immunization levels will only be achieved when all steps along the way are completed at the correct time and sequence by staff. www.americandairymen.com
Protecting fertility in the summer heat By Jaclyn Krymowski for American Dairymen Magazine
n the midst of summer, heat abatement is a commonplace battle for most dairymen. The stress of excessive heat is an obvious concern for the animals’ welfare and efficient milk production. But the shadow of its impact reaches as far as reproduction. An understanding of how the rising mercury interacts with a cow’s reproductive physiology is necessary to prevent major fertility and heat detection losses. A cause for concern
Heat stress hurts reproduction in two different ways. It impairs fertility (in both cows and bulls) and decreases the heat detection rate. For example, a 1986 study on a dairy in Florida found that only 18-24% of heats were detected in the hotter months compared to 45-56% of detections in the cooler seasons. Decreased physical activity due to discomfort is a big contributor to this kind of change. “High producing dairy cows produce a lot of internal heat simply as a byproduct of the increased metabolism associated with this very high level of milk production,” said Paul Fricke, a dairy reproductive specialist at the University of Wisconsin
in an extension podcast. To regulate their body temperatures, they must lose some of their heat via dissipation into the outside environment. When outside temperatures increase it becomes more difficult to naturally dissipate that heat. Cattle compromise for this through increased respiration by panting. “…the duration and the intensity of estrus expression is dramatically decreased, so if becomes harder and harder to see cows in estrus,” said Fricke. The other issue is decreased fertility. The first few days following ovulation the embryo is highly sensitive to the cow’s body temperatures. An animal that is heat stressed will have a negative impact on an embryo
at such a vulnerable stage. “There’s a class of proteins called heat shock proteins that can actually prevent the problems,” said Fricke. “But because in this early state of development, these proteins aren’t able to be synthesized. (Therefore) This early embryo is highly susceptible to the elevated maternal body temperature. So, what we see is a decreased conception rate which is associated essentially with early pregnancy loss.” Dr. Vicki Lauer, professional services veterinarian for Animart, added heat stress can last as long as 40-50 days after exposure to high temperatures. She noted breeding bulls will also suffer decreased performance resulting from less activity and poor sperm production. Some studies show it can take 6-12 weeks for a bull to completely recover lost sperm production due to heat stress.
What can be done?
There are lots of tools which can effectively combat heat. That said, * Continued on page 24
there’s no single thing that can be done and be expected to resolve all issues. Heat abatement only works when there are multiple strategies
An animal that is heat stressed will have a negative impact on an embryo at such a vulnerable stage. “There’s a class of proteins called heat schock proteins th at c a n actually prevent the problems,” said Fricke. “But because in this early state of development, these proteins aren’t able to be synthesized. (Therefore) This early embryo is highly susceptible to the elevated maternal body temperature. at work. The basics that should be permanently in place on every farm include sprinklers, misters, and fans. For cattle on pastures or dry lots, these may not always be readily in place. Adequate shade, especially along the feedbunk is absolutely necessary in these cases. 24
Even the best heat abatement measures in place are not enough to return fertility and heat detection to normal. Another Florida study found that a herd utilizing different cooling system still saw significantly decreased pregnancy rates in the summer. Timed A.I. programs can be very helpful because they eliminate the need to rely on heat detection. When it comes to fertility losses, embryo transfer is an expensive, but effective, option. Fricke explained this works because only the earliest stages is an embryo is susceptible to the mother’s heat stress. An embryo placed into a donor cow is mature enough to withstand her heat fluctuations. In herds battling heat stress, embryo transfer can potentially double fertility, said Fricke. Because embryo transfer is an expensive option, the individual situation must be evaluated to determine if it will be the profitable choice. Some factors include the cost of the embryo and transfer procedure and the degree to which herd fertility has been lost due to heat stress. A fact sheet by Professor P.J. Hansen of the University of Florida titled “Impact of Heat Stress on Female Fertility” gave a scenario based on a 2012 study in
the Journal of Dairy Science to illustrate profitability. “As an example, consider the case where pregnancy rate in the summer is 15% to A.I. using conventional semen and 25% using embryo transfer with sexed semen. In this scenario, embryo transfer would be profitable. It would cost $1,157 to produce a female pregnancy using timed A.I., $1,042 to produce an embryo using an oocyte harvested by ultrasound, and $820 to produce an embryo using an oocyte recovered from a slaughterhouse ovary.”
early weaning Saves Time and Money By Aly McClure for American Dairymen Magazine
oing what you love makes it easier to get through lean times, but changing some of your production practices can help ease financial restraints.
Dairying is hard work, it becomes even harder when the markets are down and you aren’t sure if your next milk check will cover your expenses. But, one thing that dairyman are known for is their resilience through down times and their love for what they do. Dairying isn’t a job, it is a lifestyle, and when you love what you do it is easier to make it through the hard times. When margins are tight in the dairy industry, it is important to find ways to cut back on overall operations costs without jeopardizing health or production of the cattle. All aspects of dairying can be evaluated to either tighten up in extra expenditures or to change procedure slightly in order to realize cost savings in larger amounts over time rather than all up front. Depending on what your operation goals are will help you to determine where you can “get skinny” during times of lower
milk prices. One area that has been known for some time to cut back on operations costs is early weaning. But what early weaning means can vary based on the dairy or calf grower, with a range as wide as three weeks of age versus eight weeks of age. Where you fall on this scale is very dependent on several factors including availability calf care workers and how quickly you need to move calves through the cycle (hint: faster is not always better). The care in the beginning of a heifers life affects her through the duration of it. It can affect her caving ability, milk output, and overall health condition. As mentioned before, weaning techniques are very operation unique but there are some tried and true methods that should not be overlooked when changing or updating the way you handle this important factor in a heifer’s life. According to the Penn State Extension research
department, “If we can wean calves earlier, we can reduce the amount of milk replacer fed and be able to control the costs of raising calves, even if the milk replacer price remains high.” The question then becomes, what is too early and what is just right to make an obvious impact on your finances? Weaning is appropriate at whatever age would be 21 days post rumen development, or initial grain intake (Penn State Extension). Initiating grain consumption by offering fresh water and feed within a few days of birth will stimulate the beginning of rumen development. While it is possible to wean calves at 3 weeks of age, it is not recommended. The level of hands on care increases substantially requiring as much as hand feeding grain to encourage rumen development. Waiting a week longer, at four weeks of age has seen much more effectiveness for weaning. You should avoid making weaning decisions based on age alone, but also * Continued on page 28
factor in starter ration consumption. How you move the calf through the weaning cycle does not change much based on age, itâ€™s just when you start. If you plan to wean within a week you will gradually reduce milk feedings and amounts until you get to one feeding per day and then remove the replacer from their diet altogether. As your work through this process it is essential to make sure the calves are consuming grain as well. At this age it is essential to know what they are consuming so that you know rumen development has begun and is at an adequate stage to remove the milk replacer from their diet. This is the key to successful early weaning. Another factor to consider with early weaning and what age makes the most sense for your operation is if it will require more calf care than you are already providing. If you are faced with having to hire another person to make this switch possible, be sure to weigh the long term expenses versus the long term savings. Do they breakeven? Are you ahead? Or will it just end up costing more? All of these need to be taken into consideration. When reviewing whether calves are physically ready to be weaned 28
at 4 weeks of age, according to Penn State Research, there is hardly any difference in rumen development and body condition between a calf weaned at 4 weeks and a calf weaned at 8 weeks. The same is true with different markers throughout their lifecycle. Calf weaning is very subjective to the operation, but it is seen to
save money in the long run doing it earlier. As mentioned before, this decision should not be based on age alone but consider in other factors as well. If you have the help and facilities to run a trial for yourself you should give it a try, no harm has ever come from a little experimentation and change.
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