By Dr. Boy name Litherland, Vita to add dairy youngstock technological specialistThe finest dairy calf and also heifer raisers place significant value on learning the birthweight of calves. Birthweight is the beginning point for knowing just how to control variation in solution to lot of milk fed as well as allowing producers to accurately calculation calf growth. 

Weighing calvesWeighing newborn calves is not the easiest task to achieve on many farms. First, an invest in a digital platform range is necessary. This scale have to be devoted to weighing newborns only. Sweet newborn calves top top a clean platform range shortly after birth. Record the weight, ID, time of birth, dam, and also date on a data catch form. Part producers room using RFID to scan calf weight, ID, date, and also time directly into DairyComp 305. 

A simple, open-platform range is desired over a scale supplied for enlarge calves. Some producers usage an easy-to-clean poly garden cart to wheel calves onto the scale. Be sure the dare is tared ~ above the scale. A common resource of error is weighing calves after colostrum has actually been fed (subtract 9 pounds if calves are fed a gallon of colostrum). Digital scales have the right to be sensitive to moisture; be sure the scale electronic devices are sealed and also kept dry. 

VariationCalf birth bodyweight can vary by as lot as 60 pounds in a typical Holstein herd v the median newborn heifer calf weighing 85 pounds. Resources of birth bodyweight variation incorporate twins, season the calving, calving early, heifer dams, and also use the calving lull bulls. The graph listed below demonstrates sport in typical birth bodyweight in the course of a year on one big Wisconsin dairy. The typical birth bodyweight for the year was 82.9 pounds through calves born in December and also January averaging 75.5 pounds (9 percent less).

Average birth bodyweight throughout a year top top a Wisconsin dairy farm.

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Using the dataKnowing birth bodyweight helps producers dial in their nutrition program to minimization over- or underfeeding calves. The first two weeks have actually a vast impact on calf growth. Overfeeding calves puts calves at threat for nutritional scours and also increases the incidence of complications, such as systemic infection and also respiratory disease. Underfeeding calves limits their ability to grow and also maintain health. 

Targeting a feeding price of 1.3 come 1.6 percent of bodyweight in milk solids (4 to 5 quarts of milk per day) in the an initial 10 come 14 days offers calves with sufficient nutrition there is no overfeeding milk. Having actually a little calf/big calf program based upon birth bodyweight has been successful in decreasing sport in the feeding program. For example, if 85 pounds is the mean birth bodyweight, then calves weighing less than 85 pounds space fed 4 quarts every day while calves over 85 pounds space fed 5 come 6 quarts the milk per day. After job 14, most healthy Holstein calves have the right to handle 6 quarts per day.

EvaluationWeigh calves at the end of the nursery step to advice nutrition and management in her calf program. Average day-to-day gain (ADG) is the major measure provided to screen the nursery program. Calf development is a enjoy of calf health, nutrition, management and the environment. Birth bodyweight is subtracted native calf weight at the finish of the nursery phase.


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The remainder is then divided by the variety of days in the nursery phase to calculation ADG (pounds per day). Aim for at the very least 1.5 pounds every day with 56 days, v closer to 1.6 pounds per day together the best target.