Calves, milk and bacteria: How clean is your kitchen?

Kelli Boylen for Progressive Dairyman

Colostrum, milk and milk replacers are all excellent sources of nutrients for calves, but also for bacteria.

Jenn Bentley of Iowa State University Extension says when that abundance of nutrients is combined with moisture, you have the key elements for bacterial proliferation, which can be detrimental to your calves’ health.

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August Calf Blog

Calves and the Hot Summer Heat!
So how did everyone, or more importantly how did your calves do last month during that heat spell?  Let’s focus this month on the extreme heat and humidity events that the summer months bring.   

Calves have heat stress just like any other animals.  Quite a few years ago I did some research on both heat stress and cold stress in calves.  Both take calories away from immune function and average daily gain.  So ask yourself, is consistency being addressed for both nutrition and sanitation?  If you have more than one person feeding calves these events can become more of a factor than one realizes. 

Lets talk nutrition and heat stress, you still need calves to consume milk.  But on extreme hot days some, mostly younger calves, may shy away from drinking their full milk amount.  So then what is your game plan?  Electrolytes I hope.  Most electrolytes have sugars added into them, I tend to lean on electrolytes that have sugar, sodium bicarb and calcium.  This way they can balance their hydration yet get some added calories throughout the day!  Same in the winter months, calories, calories, calories! 

Did we consistently get fluids into these stressed calves.  The next factor, how are you going to get these fluids into our calves?  Are you bottle feeding, tube feeding, or some require IV.  Are you recording these calves that are getting extra fluids?  Both heat stress and cold stress may influence secondary events so be on your “A” game with record keeping. 

Some of the recent research on Chlorine Dioxide has also shown benefits for reducing pathogens in water used for feeding and a Chlorine Dioxide solution for sanitation purposes. 

We at Calf Star have what it takes for your consistency in feeding calves and the chemical for controlling environmental pathogens.  Please take some time to visit our website for added resources and calf feeding equipment to make your life easier as well as consistent for a healthier animal.  Don’t hesitate to contact your regional representative with questions! 

Current Calf Star promotions include:
0% Financing for 24 months on the Milk Taxi
3.99% on HTST Pasteurizers 


July Calf Blog

How many CALORIES do my Calves actually need?
Good sunny day here in the Midwest.  Finally some actual warm days where I don’t have to put layers on!  So with layers comes the question….How many calories do my calves actually need? 

We usually talk in terms of solids when talking about nutrition in young calves.  Whether you feed whole milk or milk replacer it is all about grocery’s consumed by the calves.  We know that the more colostrum a calf gets at birth correlates to the immune function and growth/milk production or ADG for bull calves.
I was asked, “So how do solids convert to calories when feeding milk replacer?”  I had to dig to find this answer.  Here’s what I came up with: based on a 86# calf fed 2 times per day. 

Say we are feeding a 20/20 all milk powder starting at 12.5% solids just for maintenance in warm weather (above 50 degrees) feeding rate at 1.50# of powder into 2 quarts of water you will received 2,972 calories. 

Now if we move to a 20/20 same product and feed 1.25# powder at a 14% solid we move down to 2,477 calories.  So calories came from the additional powder fed at a 12.5% and 1.5# of milk powder. 

Now another scenario is if you feed a 24/22 all milk at a 14% solid and 1.5# of powder into 2 quarts your calories increase significantly to 3,040 calories.  So what if you feed whole milk, well what we know is milk weighs 8.6# in a gallon based on 3.1% protein, 3.6% fat and 4.8% lactose will equal 3,498 calories. 

The basics:8.6 pounds whole milk x 3.1% protein = .27 pounds of protein from whole milk 1.5 pounds calf starter x 18% protein = .27 pounds of protein from calf starter.

Let’s look at the math of whole milk and the solids content of the popular 20-20 milk replacers.  The feeding rates are based upon 1 gallon Holstein whole-cow milk protein and calorie equivalents per head daily as a minimum feeding rate. 

Milk replacers can supply the same total solids as whole milk but generally not the same nutrition, as milk replacers are generally higher in ash and carbohydrate fractions than that of the equivalent weight of dehydrated powdered whole milk. 

We also need to remember to feed free choice water from the beginning which will help drive starter intakes.  With warmer weather in the picture we still need to remember that all young calves need to be fed to support immune functions and growth.  Calories are not always equal as it is for us watching our nutrition! 


June Calf Blog

It’s Show Season!
Oh boy, cattle are picked out and the list of wants are endless.  Does this happen at your house? 

It’s that time of year we all look forward to but it comes with a lot of patience and enthusiasm.  Do you show cattle and what are your go to’s every year? 

I have a teenage daughter that loves the show ring.  We don’t milk cows so we have turned to leasing these animals.  It gives her the ability to work with some phenomenal people and cattle in the industry.  It’s fun to watch her grow in her excitement in the dairy industry and competing in the ring.  She is so thrilled to have the opportunity to be apart of something each year that continues to grow that network of people. 

It also has expanded her ability to choose animals that she would not have the chance to show if it were not for some wonderful families out there that have adopted her into their show family.  She has the chance to choose different breeds so she can see each breed traits and find the right fit for her.  Trust me, she has had some tough animals to break, of course with the help of Mom & Dad staying close by in the previous years. 

So for you farm families, leasing animals to kids that do not have a chance otherwise to participate in the show ring is truly a rewarding experience for both involved.  I suggest you consider giving it a try!  

See you in the show ring!


May Calf Blog

So What Kind of Leader are You?
So I look at myself and am always analyzing what I could do better when managing both calves and people. I certainly do not have all the answers. 

So I look at myself and am always analyzing what I could do better when managing both calves and people. I certainly do not have all the answers.  It starts with me first.  I can be the one to change and have a positive attitude or you can have a negative attitude which drastically effects the calf care team. I personally prefer to have my glass ½ full and have an I can attitude, those attitudes become addictive to those around you. 

If I have calves that are challenging me and I can’t seem to find the answers I get frustrated very quickly.  Same with people.  I can be very happy and forgiving but when I need to  address an issue, I tend to walk away from confrontation.  However, I am not completely afraid to hit it head on if I need to. 

Have you ever taken a personality trait test.  It’s very interesting to say the least.  It tells you  how you interact with people and the trait you have that will likely make you succeed in your  work place.  

Do you give directions and then walk away or do you explain the whys behind the direction?   When doing farm audits I often tend to find employees are not given the whys or the tools needed to accomplish the task. Lets make sure they are not set up to fail.   Do you also allow them to be a leader on your team.  Giving them authority can truly empower your operation to leap to the next level of management.  Provided we have the correct people in place. 

I am attaching a diagram of the Profile traits, see how you fit in to your own farm team! -Minnie 

April Calf Blog

April Showers Bring May Flowers ☔🌷By: Minnie Ward, Calf Star Midwest Sales Representative Well I can honestly say, I think the end of winter weather is in sight.  At least my water pails are not hockey pucks anymore!
With April showers we typically find more respiratory issues with the moisture in the air.  If air exchanges are a challenge or if you believe you do not have enough air flow for your calves, find someone to fog your facility.  It’s very simple and yet very visual.   How many air changes should we achieve in warmer weather months?  Well, the answer is…it all depends on your facility.  Hutches are all natural exchanges with the calf’s ability to move about where it needs to find fresh clean air.  However, you can add blocks to elevate your hutches in the summer for added air flow.  many calf barns need to be evaluated and usually supported by air inlets, fans, windows, tube fans or a combination. Industry standard is 6 mph for adequate air flow at the calf’s level.  Make sure your individual pens are also set up for the best benefit for cross ventilation.Here are some additional links for added ventilation support: 
Calf Barn Fogging
Swift Start Program – Crystal Creek 
Happy Spring! 😎🌷 Minnie

March Calf Blog

For the Luck of Calves!By: Minnie Ward, Calf Star Midwest Sales Representative I have a question for you this month.  How lucky are you feeling right now with your calf raising skills?
Do you Feel Lucky? 🍀Boy, the past several months have been more than challenging.  First, lets say calves in cold weather climates pose a real obstacle.  We stepped up our feeding program on our farm from twice a day feeding to three times a day in the cold weather we experienced a month ago.  However, the luck was with us.  We did not lose any calves to cold weather but I must say I did lose a few to sever scours.  My office has become my neonatal unit, not ideal but it works! My lucky clover has not appeared yet, as I write this we are under another snow advisory.  My calves have been bedded more times this year than I can remember.  They are having a hard time getting in & out of their hutches and lets say moving panels is not the easiest feat currently. Thank God for my Milk Taxi that allows us to be as consistent at feeding as we can get.  With my machine I can manage temperature, volume fed, and mix my milk replacer.  There is no whisk involved!  Even better, my kids are even excited about feeding calves!  This has helped us raise some pretty awesome heifers. Happy St. Patty’s Day and hopefully our luck will change soon in the weather department!  🍀