When making decisions on calf housing, consider what is right for the calf." That’s the advice of Mike Larson of Larson Acres Inc., who recently constructed four calf nursery barns on his family farm in Evansville. Mike consulted with a team of university and extension professionals in addition to conducting his own research and farm visits for nearly a year before deciding on the final barn design and what calf pens to use inside. In the end, it was Calf-Tel, manufactured locally by Hampel Corp. of Germantown.
The Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (DCHA) recently announced new calf raising standards for Holstein calves from birth to 6 months old. Progressive Dairyman Editor Walt Cooley discussed the development and industry impact of the new standards with DCHA President and Calf-Tel National Sales Manager Calf Management Consultant Lewis Anderson.
A challenge that dairy producers face with their newborn calves is consistency, says Calf–Tel calf–care specialist Lewis Anderson. Anderson has more than 30 years of extensive calf–raising and management experience. He recommends developing a standard operating procedure or SOP to achieve consistency with your calves. Here are some points to include in an SOP:
Whether you’re raising calves indoors or out, there are several commonly accepted fundamental elements that remain the same: comfort, separation, ventilation, health and bio-security, ease of use and economy. You can have the latest system available but if these fundamentals are not met – your success rate will suffer. There are numerous housing options available: wood, metal, fiberglass, plastic and high-density polyethylene, to name a few. The housing system you use can have a huge impact on your calf management. With so many options available, choosing the right one can be difficult. The last thing you want is to invest in a housing system that does not work for you. To help make the right decision, look at the fundamental calf-raising elements and rate each system’s ability to help you achieve success in each of these areas.