Heartland is moving forward not only with the construction of our new feed manufacturing center in Owen, WI but with a new online feed ordering system. Being able to utilize technology, and making ordering easier for our customers, is one step towards the future of the feed business. This is just one more step forward in keeping up with the needs of our customers.
Contact your local Heartland Cooperative Sales Representative or call any mill location for more information.
Heartland’s Calf and Heifer Program
Calf Auto Feeders
Are we programming our auto feeding programs to do what we want them to be doing?
Anyone with an auto feeder knows there are a lot of numbers associated with getting those machines up and operational. One of the areas we work with on farm is to make sure we have the discussions with producers and calf managers to make sure everyone understands how the numbers work. These discussions can ultimately have a big impact on the day to day functions of these machines, and ultimately the health of the calves. Some of the areas of discussion;
One of the most important areas to look at before installing an auto feeder on your farm. Water is used on some farms for mixing with milk powder but in every case, it is used for cleaning! Cleaning is the number one area we must be paying attention too when using any system auto feeding or conventional!
Are we setting up the programs to allow natural behavior of the calf?
Are we accidently causing a bottleneck at the nipple?
Are we actually feeding the solid level that we think we are feeding? (This has been an interesting finding lately)
(It is not just the “concentration” level in the feed program that makes this determination.
Are we using the correct amount of chemicals?
Are we up to speed on what is available for cleaning options in our feeders?
Are we using the correct amount of powder to achieve the solids level we have targeted?
Ask your auto feeder specialist to work with you on reaching your goals. She can teach you about your equipment program and how it can affect the behavior and health of your calves?
If you would like more information or want to visit and share your farms goals please, call Maria Meyer (715) 797-9603 at Heartland Cooperative Services and schedule an on-farm visit to see what your current program is doing for you and if there are any differences or strategies that can improve the calves on your dairy.
We all know how hard it is to work on the farm in excessive heat. The impact on calves can be just as stressful if not more so.
Heat stress can affect their health, compromise their immune system, slow their growth rates and affect future production.
Calves grow best between a temperature range of 55 F to 78 F. When temperatures exceed 78 F, heat stress starts to affect calves. If they don't receive enough fluids – a total of 3 to 6 gallons daily – it limits their cooling ability and reduces feed intake.
That’s why keeping them as cool as possible should be a top priority.
Calves suffering from heat stress will show signs of reduced movement, decreased feed intake, higher water consumption, rapid respiration, open-mouth breathing and a lack of co-ordination in their movement.
Here are some tips that will help you keep calves cool during these hot summer days
Try to do stressful activities, like moving, grouping, handling or vaccinating in the morning hours when it is cooler. Although evening temperatures can seem cool, a calf’s body temperature can lag behind ambient temperature by four to six hours so it is best to limit stressful activities to morning hours.
Make sure calves have plenty of cool, clean and fresh water. This helps ensure they don’t get dehydrated and keeps their internal temperature down. A heat-stressed calf can drink between 11 and 22 litres of water per day.
Provide fresh feed daily to ensure calves continue to eat even in hot weather.
Feed calves before or after peak times of heat and humidity. Calves’ digestion peaks approximately four hours after feeding so altering your feeding time will ensure this doesn’t happen during the hottest time of the day.
Clean and sanitize water and milk pails regularly – this prevents algae, mold and bacteria growth.
Keep calves well-bedded and dry. Sand bedding will keep calves cooler and also helps control flies.
For calves housed outdoors, make sure there is access to shade and protection from wind or heavy rain.
Fresh, clean air is important to maintain calf health. Either natural ventilation or total air exchange with fans is essential to keep their immune systems strong. In naturally ventilated buildings, all vents and sidewall curtains should be completely open. Bad ventilation can result in respiratory problems, decreased feed consumption and reduced gain. Make sure there is good airflow in and around hutches. Keep hutch vents and doors open.
Lift the back of the hutch slightly off the ground. This lowers temperature and carbon dioxide levels inside the hutch and boosts air movement.
Situate calf hutches in shaded areas. If you do not have naturally shaded areas, consider building temporary shade structures – like those used to protect ginseng crops from the sun – to keep the hutches cool. Feed and water should also be kept in the shade. These should be at least 14 feet (4.26 m) high to ensure good airflow.
Calves with dark hides are more susceptible to heat stress than those with lighter-coloured hides.
SIGNS OF HEAT STRESS IN CATTLE
Looking out for signs of heat stress in cattle is the job of everyone on the farm.
Here are some of the signs of heat stress to watch for:
No signs of heat stress
Elevated Breathing rate
Spend increased time standing
Elevated breathing rate
Most animals standing in pen and restless
Animals may group together
Elevated breathing rate Excessive drooling or foaming