Press-Republican

Hagar

January 6, 2013

Off to a good start

As winter finally arrived in force and the pastures begin to disappear under an extra thick blanket of snow, I am already looking forward to spring. Winter can be hard on the farm; frozen pipes, broken machinery and snow-removal chores can make a “short” winter day really long.

My beef cows are pretty tough, wintering outside in the cover of pine trees, but they will soon start to get restless from being cooped up and eating dry hay all winter. Come springtime, the pastures will be filled with new calves and their protective mothers.

While beef calves are typically raised on pasture nursing on their mothers, dairy calves depend on the farmer to provide food, shelter and other care needed to keep them healthy and growing well. The cold weather makes proper calf care even more important. Raising healthy calves is the goal of every farmer and maintaining a consistent and high-quality care regimen is crucial.

Last year I attended a presentation by Dr. Sam Leadley, a highly regarded consultant on calf and heifer management. Dr. Leadley participated in developing the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association Gold Standards for calf care. The Gold Standards give dairy farmers and calf raisers guidelines by which calf mortality and illness can be reduced and future cow performance can be enhanced.

Record keeping of birth dates, weights, growth rate and treatment for illness are all important to manage for desired goals. The Gold Standards aim is to have calves double in weight by 60 days.

The key to a good start is to be sure that high-quality colostrum is fed to every calf in the first four hours of its life. High quality is of utmost importance. The maternal antibodies that colostrum provides can be overwhelmed by disease-causing bacteria if proper washing, stripping and dipping procedures are not carried out.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Hagar
  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Watch out for farm machinery

    Accidents on roadways involving farm vehicles can be avoided with a little bit of caution, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Better bulls improve beef quality

    Artificial insemination can be used to get the most from a beef-cattle herd, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Healthy environment good for farming

    Best practices and conservation are top priorities for modern farmers, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Planning for greener pastures

    While it can be time consuming and costly at first, good pasture management pays off in the long run, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    February 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Chicken raising has rewards

    Many people interested in growing their own food supply may enjoy this hobby, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    February 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg A season for learning

    Crop Congress at Miner Institute just one of the opportunities available for farmers to keep up with the latest information, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    January 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers getting information in different ways

    The Internet ushered in a whole host of conveniences that farmers can take advantage of with little effort, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    January 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Animal husbandry important in winter

    Keeping animals comfortable during cold weather is only one responsibility of caring owners, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    December 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Taking care of business

    Year's end is a taxing time for many area farmers who have to keep track of all their own finances, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    December 8, 2013 1 Photo

Videos: Editor Picks