Incentives for Dairy Calf Raising
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4 Incentives for Dairy Calf Raising Brian Manning Jim Reynolds Chief or Service, Dairy Production Medicine UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (559) 786-4584 firstname.lastname@example.org Calf raising on dairies is very health, condition and sanitation of the important to the profitability of a dairy. late-gestation pregnant cows and heifers Managed properly, the calf program can and ends when the heifer enters the supply a surplus of healthy replacement milking herd. This discussion will focus cattle to the dairy. If managed poorly, on the system from birth to weaning, the calf program can consume money because this is the most labor intense and resources, strain relationships and period of calf raising and takes the most cause the dairy to purchase skill and management. replacements. Dairy calf raising Dairies can raise their replacement programs have many variations and can heifers on site, have them custom raised include several different management at calf ranches for any part of the areas and systems on the farm. growing cycle, or sell them after birth. Successful calf raising begins with the 44 • D A I R Y I N C E N T I V E P AY ( 4 TH EDITION) INCENTIVES FOR D A I R Y C A L F R A I S I N G • 45 J.W. Schroeder, NDSU CALF RAISING SYSTEMS ON result in more live calves, better cow Healthy calves start from reproductive health and better calf DAIRIES OR CALF RANCHES health. birth: a clean and dry calf · Poorly designed facilities require extra from birth is essential. The Calf raising systems can be outlined labor or result in ignoring cows that as the following parts: goal for the maternity area is need assistance. This will increase 1) Calves must be born in a clean and to provide clean bedding and the still-born rate and the number of dry area. calves born distressed. appropriate are for both the · Sanitation determines the pathogen · Attending dystocias is a skilled task load, or exposure to bacteria and dam and the calf. that truly requires training so that other disease agents. Calves born trauma to the cow is minimized and into dirty conditions will be exposed the chance for a live calf is to pathogens. maximized. The herd veterinarian · Calves born into wet conditions will should be used to help train the lose body temperature and will need workers involved with delivering to expend energy to stay warm. calves. Holstein calves are born with about · Appropriate and sufficient quantities of 48 hours of energy reserves. equipment, lubricants and 2) Dystocias must be attended by disinfectants must be available to the trained people in appropriate workers at the maternity area. facilities. 3) Calves must be fed adequate amounts · Well-designed maternity areas allow of clean colostrum within a few workers to attend a cow in labor hours of birth. when she needs help. This will 46 • D A I R Y I N C E N T I V E P AY ( 4 TH EDITION) · Fly control is very important because flies transfer pathogens around a calf facility. Keeping the area in and around calf housing clean, dry and free of manure and water is very important. · Calves must be able to turn around when kept in individual hutches. · Calves must be provided dry bedding, shade from direct sunlight and shelter from rain or snow. 5) Calves must be fed adequate amounts of energy and protein for growth and health. · Whole milk provides more calories than most milk replacers. · Calves in positive growth are healthier and require less medical treatment than calves that lose body condition (fat stores) during early growth. J.W. Schroeder, NDSU · Body condition scores of calves from 7 to 28 days of age should not get below 3 (1 to 5 scale). Thin calves are the result of inadequate energy. 6) Rumen development must be · Calves have an absolute requirement managed properly. Newborn calves have an · Calves are born with small, for colostrum. Cattle are a species absolute requirement for that does not transfer antibodies undeveloped rumens. from the dam to the fetus during · Rumen development occurs as a colostrum. Colostrum pregnancy. Therefore, the newborn response to volatile fatty acids provides more energy and (VFAs) released during digestion of calf is dependent on colostrum for protein than regular milk or passive immunity as well as carbohydrates. initiation of maturation of the · Grain intake determines VFA milk replacer and is the only immune system. production. Therefore, it is source of antibodies in the imperative that calves are presented · Colostrum has twice the solids and newborn calf. considerably more energy and fresh, palatable grain daily so they protein than regular milk or milk will eat grain and make VFAs. replacer. · A calf can develop a rumen, become a · Calves need colostrum for energy, functional ruminant and get energy protein, antibodies and to initiate the from grain by about 3 weeks of life digestive enzymes and parts of the if managed properly. immune system. · Clean water must be provided to calves 4) Calves must be housed in clean and daily. Calves need water to stay dry facilities. hydrated and grain intake is · Sanitation is one of the key dependent on water intake. determinants of the pathogen load in 7) Calves must be observed daily by the calf's environment. Filth and trained personnel for attitude, body manure expose calves to pathogens, condition score, hygiene and health. clean housing protects calves. · Workers must be trained to understand · Manure, mud and water decrease the how to observe calves for the above insulating ability of hair and reduce parameters. the calf's ability to regulate body · Workers must be trained to implement temperature. A wet calf will use up treatment protocols when they to 20% of it's' energy to stay warm recognize sick calves. in cold weather. · Calf health is determined by positive growth, which can be measured by INCENTIVES FOR D A I R Y C A L F R A I S I N G • 47 body condition score observations. · Target body weights should be · Workers must have the ability or established for each facility that authority to correct problems in allow healthy transition from housing maintenance, feeding, individual pens to group pens. handling or treatment or be able to · Calves can generally be smaller when direct their observations to moved into small groups of 5 to 10 supervisors who will implement calves. Calves should be larger necessary actions. when moved into groups of over 30 · Calves that require euthanasia must be calves. identified and humanely euthanized. · Most dairies target 175 pounds for 8) Calves should be moved from calves before moving from The goal in the hutch system individual housing to group pens as individual pens to group pens. is to have calves that are soon as possible. · Individual housing and liquid feeding alert and curious. All calves INCENTIVE PAY PROGRAMS IN is more expensive than group must have fresh and clean housing and solid feeding. CALF RAISING PROGRAMS water and grain available · Calves can only be removed from liquid feed after they have developed Causal incentive pay programs, everyday so that they rumens and are eating and digesting where the employee never knows when develop rumens quickly and over 1 pound of grain daily for at a reward will be given, are used on some farms. Examples of these maintain normal hydration. least 3 days in a row. American Jersey Cattle Association, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 48 • D A I R Y I N C E N T I V E P AY ( 4 TH EDITION) programs are when employees are given by management. Management will have gifts, such as restaurant vouchers or to establish targets, collect the data or cash gifts, when the owner or manager information related to each target, feels that work has been productive or analyze the information and report to the farm income has been good. These each employee whether or not the target unstructured attempts to direct employee was met. If the employee did not meet behavior by spontaneous rewards the target(s) it is necessary to tell the usually fail in the long term because the employee why they will not get the underlying reasons for the rewards, such incentive pay and work with them to as hard work or increased income, have correct the situation. Many times targets An easy way to monitor the not been clearly defined and are are not met for reasons that are out of achieved only by happenstance and not the employee's control but require nutrition program in young management. management or the supervisor's calves is to observe body Successful calf raising requires involvement. For example, a worker condition as they grow. clearly defined goals, objectives and may do a very good job of feeding tactics. Workers should be trained to colostrum to the calves but the milking Body condition can be their jobs and tasks and understand what crew may be providing the wrong milk scored from 1 (emaciated or the outcome goals are for their specific to the calf worker, or they may not be very thin) to 5 (fat) based on areas of work. Only then will structured cooling the evening colostrum, thus incentive pay programs work. Incentive allowing bacteria to incubate. If the amount of covering over pay can be arranged for any work done management does not correct the parts the pelvis and ribs. Calves by employees that produces more of the system that are outside the should not be less than 3 outcome or better results than they are worker's control the worker may become expected to provide for their base salary. disgruntled and the incentive program body condition score as they Incentive pay can be set for any of may become a disincentive program. grow. The calf pictured is the areas described in the calf raising Actual dollar amounts to be given about a 3 and represents a system outline above. Any effective and for each targeted incentive program are lasting incentive pay program will difficult to determine and will depend healthy calf. require considerable interest and effort on the particular farm. Losses from calf deaths, less than desired weight gains and more than desired medicine costs can be calculated and the expected savings shared with employees when the targets are met. Potential areas for incentive pay in the calf raising system could then be the following: Rates are usually defined as number of cases/ number of eligible animals per month. The analysis can be done weekly of quarterly, depending on the size and needs of the farm. [Editor's note: Even if the employees are not paid right away, the more frequent the feedback, the better. This is especially true when getting started on an incentive American Jersey Cattle Association, Reynoldsburg, Ohio pay program] DOA rate (dead on arrival) This is usually defined as calves that are born dead or die within the first 24 hours after birth. The rate varies considerably by dairy due to the facilities, worker training, staffing levels, pre-partum cow nutrition, pariety INCENTIVES FOR D A I R Y C A L F R A I S I N G • 49 of the dam, housing and the owner's resist disease. If they are losing body attitude and desires. condition or weight they will get sick. Calculation: number of calves Calves are expected to grow at least 1.7 DOA/number of calves born per time to 2.2 pounds per day from birth period. through the end of the liquid feeding Suggested targets: < 5% = excellent; period (usually 60 to 80 days of age). < 10% = achievable. Body condition is an excellent tool to Possible corrective actions when monitor the feeding program. target not met: increase staffing to Monitor: body condition scores in accommodate increases calving load, calves in the individual hutches. Once retrain employees, investigate pre- per week determine the proportion of partum cow and heifer conditioning. calves too thin (< 3 BCS ) or normal (3 or > BCS). Colostrum feeding Suggested target: > 80 % of calves less than 30 days old should be 3 or Because calves require colostrum it greater BCS ( 1-5 scale). is imperative that they receive it Possible corrective actions when promptly. Colostrum feeding is target not met: Review the amount of commonly monitored by testing the energy available in the milk replacer and blood of the calf for evidence of that the milk replacer is mixed properly absorbed maternal antibodies. This can and the correct amount fed. Calves may be done either by radial require increases in calories depending immunodiffusion, salt precipitation on ambient temperature and pathogen (sodium sulfite turbidity test) or by total load. The milk replacer may need serum protein determination (TP). Total adjustment to control the body condition proteins are determined with a hand- scores within desired limits. held refractometer and are easiest and most practical for on-farm use. Calves Rumen development are born with about 4.5 mg/dl of TP. Levels over 5.0 mg/dl between 2 and 8 Calf rumen development is days of age indicate that the calf dependent on volatile fatty acid received and absorbed maternal production in the rumen from bacterial antibody proteins. Levels can be as breakdown of carbohydrates. This is high as 6.5 to an occasional 7.0 mg/dl. completely manageable and should Dehydration and age interfere with happen as early as possible so that the interpreting TP values. calf will receive energy from grain, a Monitor: routinely (weekly or cheaper feed than milk or milk replacer. monthly) test a sample of calves for Calves can be developed into functional total serum protein. Usually 10 calves ruminants by 25 days of age. are bled for this test. Monitor: calculate the proportion of Suggested targets: >80 % of calves calves chewing their cuds in the 25 to should be above 5.0 mg/dl TP. > 50 of 35 day-old group. calves should be > 5.5 mg/dl TP. Suggested target: at least 20 % of Possible corrective actions when the calves in this group should be target not met: verify quality of chewing cuds when observed resting. colostrum with colostrometer, verify Possible corrective actions when good quality colostrum is arriving at target not met: review bucket maternity area on time, management. Make sure clean water is available from day 1 of age and grain is clean, fresh and palatable. Nutrition and growth rates in young calves Health of calves Positive growth of calves is the Measuring the mortality (MR) or single most important thing associated morbidity rate are outcomes that are too with health in calves. If calves are late in the management system to be growing and gaining weight they can very useful for economics or welfare. 50 • D A I R Y I N C E N T I V E P AY ( 4 TH EDITION) The mortality rate is commonly for calves less than 30 days of age and calculated and is useful as a clear MR for calves in the group pens. measurement of success or failure of the Suggested targets: overall MR for calf raising system. The morbidity rate the replacement system: < 2 % per year (number of sick calves in a time period) = excellent, < 5 % per year = is difficult to determine accurately achievable, < 10 % per year = average because the recognition and diagnosis of dairy or calf ranch. calf diseases can be subjective by Possible corrective actions when employees and most calf ranches or target not met: Review all areas of the dairies do not adequately record calf raising system, but focus on morbidity information. sanitation and nutrition. Calculate: divide the number of calves that died in a time period by the CHAPTER 4 REFERENCES number on the ranch during that time period. An easy way to estimate the 1. This chapter builds on Carol Collar’s denominator is to average the begging chapter in the 3rd edition of Dairy inventory and the ending inventory (add Incentive Pay. the number of calves in the system at the beginning of a month and the number at the end of the month and divide by 2). It is most useful to determine mortality rates for specific age, or management, groups such as MR Sibylle Möcklinghoff-Wicke