Benchmarking calf growth and performance on northern New York dairy herds
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Havekes, Casey; Ferlito, Lindsay
The pre-weaning period is a vulnerable time for dairy calves and as a result, optimizing growth and health can be a challenge for dairy producers. Ensuring calves successfully transition through weaning, albeit important, can only tell us so much about a calf-raising program. It is equally important to quantify how calves are growing and performing to get the full picture of how successful a calf-raising program is. With that objective in mind, Cornell Cooperative Extension North Country Regional Ag Team (CCE NCRAT) recruited eight farms across the northern New York region to participate in a peer-to-peer discussion group focused on calf management. The discussion group was funded through the Dairy Advancement Program, which required us to meet on three separate occasions and to meet three specific milestone goals. Early on it was emphasized that the goal of the discussion group was not a competition, nor designed to rank the eight participating farms, but rather to encourage discussion, and for participants to learn from one another. The more specific objectives of the group were to: 1) measure transfer of passive immunity (TPI) among newborn calves, 2) calculate average daily gain (ADG) across the pre-weaning period, and 3) to determine the costs associated with each farm’s heifer-raising program. The group discussion consisted of eight calf managers/farm owners across northern New York, along with the two CCE NCRAT dairy specialists. Results from the first two objectives are described below. To ensure anonymity, participating herds were assigned a herd identification number ranging from one through eight; however, due to inconsistencies in data collection, Farm Eight is omitted from this report.
Dairy Advancement Program
dairy; calf; pre-weaning; growth