Give calves a fighting chance!

From the moment the calf is born, there’s a fight going on between the calf’s immune function (the good guys) and the pathogens in the environment (the bad guys).  I like to think of it like a fight between rival gangs – the good guys and the bad guys.  The outcome is determined by which side is better prepared and brings more people.  The good guys are like the immune system.  We need the good guys to be in top shape and prepared to fight.  We can build up the strength of the good guys by having a good dry cow program, vaccinating to address the risks on the farm, getting colostrum into the calf, keeping her warm and dry, and putting her on a good nutrition program. Unfortunately, the bad guys also want a fight and will do everything they can to win the battle.  The bad guys are pathogens in the environment.  We can reduce the strength of the bad guys by keeping the calving pen clean, cleaning and sanitizing feeding equipment, dipping the navel and making sure everything the calf touches is clean.  Set that calf up for success by giving the immune system a stronger gang than the pathogens bring. If we have a full term calf, delivered normally in a clean, dry, calving pen, the sides are fairly evenly matched.  Getting that calf dried off, fed colostrum  or colostrum replacer such as Calf Armor 150, and moved promptly into a clean pen gives her immune system the advantage.  This calf will be exposed to pathogens in the environment, but her immune system can overpower...

Evaluating the 2015 Corn Silage Crop

With the 2015 corn silage harvest winding down and samples coming through the labs it has given us the opportunity to evaluate this year’s crop.  The table below lists the samples submitted to Cumberland Valley Analytical Services in September of the respective year by ANC consultants that were labeled as either 2014 or 2015 corn silage. 2014 2015 Moisture 65.4 65.3 CP% 7.6 7.26 NDF 37.6 40.7 NDFd30 (%NDF) 56.2 55.3 uNDF240 9.96 11.12 Starch 36.3 32.7 7hr Starch (%Starch) 68.2 73.2 Ferm. Starch (%DM) 24.76 23.94 pH 3.96 3.94 There are several key numbers to pull away from this data.  The first is the NDF digestibility at 30 hours is similar to last year.  The ideal NDFd30 for conventional corn silage is closer to 60%.  Lower NDFd can negatively influence dry matter intake and milk production.  This issue is compounded by the higher NDF concentration of the silage and fully expressed as uNDF240.  uNDF240 is a relatively new measure.  uNDF240 is the amount of NDF that remains after 240 hours of fermentation. It’s currently thought that high levels of uNDF in the diet may limit dry matter intake.  Overall this means that this year’s corn silage, on average, is more likely to limit dry matter intake than last year’s crop. Logically, as NDF concentration increases, starch concentration decreases (and vice versa).  Starch values in this year’s crop are running  ~3.5 points lower than last year, down to 32.7%.  However the starch appears to be more fermentable than last year at this time as the 7hr starch is 5 percentage points higher.  Using these values we can calculate fermentable...