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Calf Growth Weights – the proof is in the pudding!

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Calf Growth Weights – the proof is in the pudding!

One of the rewarding parts of regular weigh banding is producing the growth reports. Allowing Vets and VetTechs to look at how individuals have performed and if small changes to their calf rearing system have made either a positive or negative impact on the daily live weight gain (DLWG) of their calves. Emily from our Lancs VetTech team shows us some successes!

We all want to have as high DLWG as possible for our calves and will try all sorts in order to achieve this. But most of the time it is the smallest of things that get forgotten that make the world of difference.

This year (2018) has seen big changes with the race to the top of the benchmarking graph here in Lancs. So I thought I’d share a few changes with the results that have been made or noticed across farms up here…

Introduction of a calf routine

(Graph 1 – Farm A)

This has been a bit of a trial up in Lancs which we started at the end of August, where a vet and a VetTech visit a farm to look into the calf rearing facilities. From housing to colostrum management, we go through all your system step by step to see if there are any small points to alter. Following on, the VetTech makes routine visits to see how the changes are going or if there are any new steps that could be added in. On this particular farm (A), small changes such as keeping unvaccinated bulls separate to vaccinated heifers, having an individual feeding bucket per calf and bedding up calves more frequently has made an unbelievable difference in DLWG – increasing from 0.6kg/day to well over 0.8kg/day. A real success story!

Calf Growth Example 1
Graph 1: Average DLWG (Kg) over the last 12 months

Introduction of a calf rearer

Having a staff member who is solely responsible for rearing calves can be a big cost to a business but the benefits are proven to outweigh the costs. Farm B (Graph 1) introduced a sole calf rearer at the beginning of the year about April time. Which instantly made a massive difference to the DLWG; not only on paper but the calf shed is a much more pleasant environment to be in for both the calves and employees. The calf rearer ensures that all the calves are given the correct quantity of colostrum and attention to detail is second to none!

Farm C (Graph 2) also introduced a calf rearer at the beginning of the year about March time. With this farm buying in calves at five days old they seemed to have a lot of disease issues spreading through the calf shed. The rearer concentrated on picking up and treating disease as soon as possible, along with putting sick calves in isolation from the rest of the group.

All the calves that had been treated were written down in the diary, allowing other staff to be aware of the issues. This has also enabled them to look back at any of the poorer DLWG to see if they were the individuals that had been sick in the past. The increase in average DLWG from 2017 to 2018 has proved that an individual calf rearer is worth the expense!

If you would like to know where you are on the benchmarking graph or would like to know your farms average DLGW get in touch with your VetTech Team!

Graph 2: Average DLWG (Kg) over the last four years
2019-03-04T15:43:39+00:00 February 8th, 2019|Dairy, Youngstock|

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