The importance of Youngstock care has long been overlooked in the overall farming system. However, changes you make at this crucial stage will have dramatic effects later when in production. Rearing a replacement heifer is the second highest cost on a unit and small changes can have a huge impact on the bottom line.
Kat Hart reared the dairy replacement youngstock while working at home and so realises the importance of practical, time-effective solutions to common calf problems. This, together with a great passion for this area, has led her across the globe, contributing to the Dairy Calf and Heifer Conference in Wisconsin and now planning to increase her study in Utrecht later this year. She has also increased the evidence base by studying the link between colostrum hygiene, management and calf health.
This is a different approach to youngstock care as our visit covers all areas from the calving cow until the heifer finally reaches the milking herd herself. This is repeated often quarterly to assess for seasonal changes but also to ensure our proposed suggestions are working.
The initial plan costs £250 and includes:
o bloods to check for pneumonia viruses
o faecal samples to identify viruses as well as parasites
o full assessment of colostrum for hygiene, bacterial count and quality
o bloods collected also from young calves to assess overall colostrum management including timing, quality and quantity - Normally, this would amount to a total cost of £840 but, thanks to industry sponsorship and support from drugs companies, we can offer this at just £250.
Approximately £75 - depending on numbers in attendance
This recently introduced one-day course is conducted by Kat and has been very successful. Topics including calving, colostrum, diseases and weaning are all covered in detail, followed by an afternoon session to employ practical skills. A stethoscope and thermometer are also included in the price thereby affording you the opportunity to utilise new skills as soon as you arrive home as you adopt a systematic approach to the sick calf and utilise your knowledge of the 5 Qs of Colostrum on your farms.
We offer a full housing assessment including air speed, humidity and temperature. In addition, a risk assessment of draught and air movements can be undertaken if pneumonia is a problem. We can also offer design advice if you are considering a new build! Kat's knowledge in this area has been enhanced further through training in "Calf Barn Supplemental Positive Pressure Tube Ventilation Design" run by Ken Nordland of the Dairyland Initiative, University of Wisconsin. In addition she has worked with national expert Jamie Robertson.