The future of every successful dairy operation depends on a steady supply of healthy, productive replacement heifers calving between 22 and 24 months of age.
If a dairy is not expanding, sales of excess heifers should be an additional revenue stream for the farm. If the farm’s business is raising calves for others, producing healthy, productive animals is essential to the long-term success of the calf-raising enterprise.
You’ve probably noticed over the years that raising calves is a topic near and dear to my heart. You can never know too much about raising calves. Knowing enough and caring enough makes the difference between satisfaction and success or frustration and failure.
Workshop. Consequently, Ohio State University Extension is offering the Neonatal Calf Management Workshop March 21-22 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, focusing on everything you ever wanted to know about understanding and managing a calf, from the calving process through weaning.
General sections will include delivering and managing the newborn; health diagnosis, treatment and prevention; nutrition and growth; and managing the calf enterprise. Twenty-five sub-topics will dig into the details of these general section topics.
Hands-on labs will include assessing calf health, dealing with drugs and administering fluid therapy, posting a calf and studying calf anatomy, and avoiding on-the-job injury.
Beneficial. It is highly rewarding to work with a barn full of healthy, content calves. Dealing with chronic morbidity and mortality is discouraging for the people working with the calves and unprofitable as well as unsustainable for the farm.
From a purely economic perspective, with common calves less than a week old easily selling for $500 to $700 at local sale barns, dairies should strive for a death loss well under 5 percent. I personally prefer 0 percent, but realistically 2 percent to 3 percent is attainable.
Registration. Class sizes will be limited to assure plenty of hands-on experiences for participants.
A detailed agenda, registration materials and fee information is available by contacting me at 330-263-3799 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or downloading it at http://dairy.osu.edu.
A registration discount is available for multiple registrants from the same farm who wish to share reference materials. Reasonable local hotel accommodations are available for those who wish to stay in the area overnight.
Looking ahead. The workshop will be followed by a June workshop focusing on the replacement heifer, from weaning through growing, breeding and freshening.
(The author is the northeast Ohio district dairy specialist with OSU Extension. Send comments or questions in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)