What to Consider Before Sending Calves to a Custom Raiser

Heifer raising is costly to a farm. On average, heifer raising is about 20% of the total operating costs on a farm. Heifer raising is an investment for the future of the herd; it doesn’t create return until the heifer has calved and is producing milk. However, heifers may not prove an investment for the future of the herd if they are not cared for and fed properly. They may be more costly and time consuming for a farm if they do not reach desired production numbers, have health problems, etc. Custom heifer raising seems to be a popular trend lately. While farmers are looking to replace their cows and/or even expand their herd with growthy, high-performing heifers, they are seeking out custom heifers to take care of their calves.  By contracting with a custom heifer raiser, farmers have the opportunity to focus their time and energy on other areas where they are more skilled or need more close managerial attention. By specializing in the care of heifers, custom heifer raisers provide a service for farmers. Custom heifer raisers have the ability to be efficient with their feed costs while reaching benchmarks sooner. They focus all of their time on the heifers they care for so they have the ability to monitor illness and lack of growth each in calf. Before making the decision to send your calves to a custom heifer raiser, however, it is important to do the following: Assess facilities: Could my current facilities be used to expand the milking herd? Are these facilities working well for raising calves? Could we store more feed in this area?...

The Forgotten Cost of TMR Sorting

In prior articles we have discussed TMR sorting and how it can lead to sub-acute rumen acidosis (SARA).  This condition has a huge impact on bottom line profits. However, the impact of TMR sorting goes far beyond SARA. When cows sort their TMR they change the nutrient profile of the feed that is left in the bunk. The behavior of individual cows in the herd has a huge impact on how this sorted feed will affect them.   According to Dr. Trevor DeVries of the University of Guelph, cows are social animals that,  “… tend to synchronize their behavior, including a strong desire to access the feed bunk as a group.  When space is reduced, this behavior increases competition for access [to feed]…”   The most aggressive cows in the herd are more likely to access fresh feed soon after delivery and pick out the grain putting them at a greater risk of SARA.   On the other hand the more submissive cows can be left with feed that is much higher in fiber and lower in carbohydrate.  These cows are more likely to consume a ‘ration’ that has a lower energy density and they may fail to reach their potential peak milk yield and/or lose body condition.   If feed bunk space is limited then the problem is exacerbated. So the cost associated with TMR sorting goes far beyond the costs associated with SARA.   There are several strategies that can be employed to reduce the sorting of a TMR including: increasing feed bunk space providing headlocks or barriers increasing the frequency of TMR delivery Providing adequate feed bunk space decreases competition for...

ANC “Goes Beyond for Dairy” at World Dairy Expo

Thank you to everyone that stopped by our booth at World Dairy Expo to participate in our #Igobeyondfordairy campaign.  We had a great time learning about all of the ways, big or small, you go beyond to care for your animals and to advocate for agriculture! Check out our photo album of our favorite #gobeyondfordairy stories and facts!     This slideshow requires JavaScript.   View all of the photos on our facebook page! Weren’t able to make it to World Dairy Expo this year and still want to participate in the #gobeyondfordairy campaign?  Just post on facebook or twitter using the hashtag #Igobeyondfordairy or email your photos and stories to eibergenc@agrinutrition.com!  We’ll send you a free t-shirt!...