Below you will find a list of questions that customers frequently ask us. Have a question about calf rearing that you would like answered? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to help!
The only data was roughly 10 years ago. 70% still raise calves in individual housing with 30% moving to group housing. The average death rate will vary depending on management styles, we still are seeing 5% mortality rate either way. Morbitity rates however drop to 2% with newer teat sanitizing on our Holm & Laue Hygiene stall using chlorine dioxide as a disinfectant between calves.
Traditional calf feeding systems (based off 100 calves) typically require 1 person, 6 hours/day vs. automated calf feeding systems requiring one person, 2 -3 hours/day.
Automatic calf feeders require a different type of labor, reviewing alarm calves and basic observations & cleaning of machine. No manual mixing of ration or washing of pails and bottles, which results in better hygiene and reduced manual labor.
Traditional feeding systems tend to require manual recording/entry of data vs. automated calf feeding system allowing records to be kept on the computer program, then transposed to a dairy program the farm is currently using.
What we have been seeing is a combination of cross/tunnel ventilation and positive pressure tubes With the Dairy initiative program, the minimum fresh air exchanges per hour is 4 to 5. However, more recent technologies in positive pressure tube designs are allowing 10-12 air exchanges per hour without creating any excessive drafts.
This will depend on the maximum number of calves on milk at any given time. A good reference is for raising heifers only, the number of calves on milk will be 10% of your milking herd. If raising the bull calves too, the number of calves will be 20% of milking herd. Pen sizing requires 35-45 square feet per calf. The number of calves per pen is 20-25.
During summer months, sawdust/shavings with a top dressing of straw being optional. For colder climates, long-straw is to be added for nesting capabilities.
To continually bed over soiled bedding does not reduce the amount of ammonia released, so we recommend completely replacing the bedding every 7-10 days, top-dressing the bedding as needed between cleanings. Cost of wood shavings and wheat straw is approximately $125.00 and $100.00 per pen respectively.
Average bag of a 22/20 $65, a 26/20 $75. However these prices vary based on commodity prices and other ingredients included in the formulation
We encourage producers to background calves for 5-7 days before coaching them onto the feeder. A good reference is when the calf sucks the entire bottle down for 3 feeding in a row without any assistance, then they are ready to be moved to the automatic calf feeder.
The Holm & Laue calf feeding system provides an auto-training feature that will dispense a very small amount of milk to the teat to entice the calf to suck. This feature is user-adjustable.
We typically see 50-70% of calves returing to the automatic calf feeder on their own after the first training. Then after bringing unfed calves up after 8 hours, over 75-80% are fully on the system, with only several calves requiring attention.
Traditional hutch or individual pen housed calves is typically 1.5LBS of powder per day into 2qts water.
With automatic calf feedings systems, rations are typically set up using 3-4LBS of powder into 12 liters of water. A solids level concentration of 135g-145g/liter is typical.
On traditional hutch/pen feeding, the amount fed is usually 2-3 quarts/liters per feeding, twice daily.
For automatic calf feeding systems, we recommend setting up your feeding curve to allow 3 to 4 visits daily, starting them at 8 liters, quickly ramping them up to 12 liters (large breed) or starting them at 4 liters, quickly ramping them up to 8 liters per day. For the weaning curve, we recommend a reduction of 0.4 liters per day, weaning them at 56-60 days of age.
It depends on the type of bacterial bug you are dealing with but more often treatment is due to respiratory events. Electrolytes are key in first-line treatment of sickness.
Antibiotics are given for duration of sickness, typically for 2-3 days. Preventative treatment is the key.
First: preventative vaccination protocol and great colostrum management.
Second: Air quality and space requirement. Based on good colostrum management, vaccination protocols, air quality (fresh air exchanges), space per calf (35-45 square feet) and better nutrition, your rate will typically drop by roughly 3%.
The H&L Calf Expert has the ability to do a complete system wash using both detergent & acid. Water is heated within the CalfExpert boiler to 150°F. Cost will usually run $2.25 per day with 2 standard washes.
Labor rates on-farm vary depending on local and state requirements. This rate can vary from $12.00 – $25.00 per hour, depending on the role of the worker, laborer vs. management.
Most farms compost dead animals on the farm
Currently (February 2020) sale calves are selling for $50-75 at 95-110#