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Working With Mother Nature…Heifer Maturity Matters

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By Dan Leiterman

Not every seemingly good idea spawned with good intentions by dedicated professionals turns out to be an effective, practical solution. The case in point discussed here; What is the proper age for a dairy heifer to freshen at? Research presented at the 4-State Nutrition Conference this year, and reviewed in this article, shows that the industry’s efforts to freshen dairy heifers at 22 months of age vs. 24 months of age are detrimental to the lifetime productivity of the cow and to the farmer’s profitability.

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The Virtue of Patience

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By Darren Zimmerman, D.V.M.

Dr. Darren Zimmerman has recently joined the Crystal Creek® team and is further advancing his veterinary skills through an additional knowledge of animal nutrition.  Crystal Creek® is excited to be working with Dr. Zimmerman as he becomes more familiar with the Crystal Creek® sustainable approach to livestock nutrition.

When I was first out of vet school, I felt that I had all the knowledge and energy in the world.  Unfortunately, clients saw a green, untested kid with a lot of “new” ideas. I quickly learned that “teaching an old dog new tricks” requires patience and persistence; and, if there is one thing farmers know, it’s persistence. Farmers can be a stubborn lot (I say this as someone who married a farmer and is, himself, a farmer). Changing their minds and ways of doing things requires a lot of patience and persistence. Patience can be hard to come by, especially when you have all the knowledge and energy in the world to impart. So many times when something seemed simple and obvious to me, it was difficult to see things from their perspective. I needed to remember that they also had their knowledge and weren’t always looking to adapt and change their world. I learned the value of slow steps and gradual change.

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The ROI of Calf Barn Ventilation

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By Alex Austin, B.S.

One of the top expenses for a dairy is raising replacement heifers. Since it can take approximately two years before a heifer enters the milking herd, heifer raising is often viewed as a cost rather than an investment. While producers may consider cutting corners on heifer care as an attempt to save money, that approach can often lead to greater financial loss in the form of additional medical treatments, increased farm labor, and poor animal performance. Future milk production potential should also be considered. Studies have shown that calves who receive proper care during the pre- and post-weaning periods become better-producing cows. A better-producing cow means a faster return on investment and increased profit. Investing in practices that will help provide a healthy environment for calves to be raised in will result in more productive animals once maturity is reached. There are many variables of calf care, from different feeding programs to housing styles. This article will focus on the cost, and the return on investment, of proper air quality provided by positive pressure calf barn ventilation systems.

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An Interview: Bill Ciolkosz Discusses His Journey to Build a Quality Calf Barn

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By Cassy Golburg, B.A.

In the fall of 2021, Bill Ciolkosz added a new calf barn to his operation, along with a Crystal Creek® FLAP DUCT® calf barn ventilation system. Bill is a fourth-generation farmer in Thorp, WI. The land he farms has been in his family for over a hundred years. In a recent interview with Crystal Creek®, Bill discussed the reasoning behind the features he chose for his new calf barn facility and how he decided the FLAP DUCT® ventilation system was the right choice for his calves.

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Biologically Appropriate Calf Feeding

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By Erik Brettingen, B.S.

The performance and production ability of a cow are determined by the quality of nutrition and health management they receive as a calf. Since calf raising is expensive, it is important to determine the most efficient and effective feeding method available. Calves are biologically designed to thrive on milk for the first portion of their life and are able to gain weight very efficiently during this time. Feeding increased levels of milk, or milk replacer can be the best way to increase calf growth rates early in life.

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3 Common Calf Barn Ventilation Questions Answered

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By Ryan Leiterman, D.V.M
Director of Technical Services

I have been fascinated with calf barn ventilation for more than a decade; to the point where I have made its study the focus of much of my professional career. Calf raisers around the world often have the same questions when it comes to ventilation and this article will discuss the three most common calf barn ventilation questions I receive. Interestingly enough, the questions themselves are often more complicated than their associated answers.

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Dry Cow Nutrition and Management: The Key to Quality Colostrum

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By Erik Brettingen, B.S.

Colostrum is one of the most important factors in raising healthy calves. Besides assuring a healthy start to the calf’s life, colostrum is known to have positive effects that increase a calf’s potential as a 1st lactation heifer. Colostrum is commonly credited for providing antibodies like immunoglobulin G (IgG), but it also supplies hormones, white blood cells and calories. With colostrum being such a vital component of calf health, it is of paramount importance that cows produce adequate volumes of high-quality colostrum. Dry cow vaccination protocols, management practices, and most importantly, dry cow nutrition, all have far-reaching influences on colostrum production and colostrum quality. Guidelines for measuring colostrum quality can be found in the calf section of Crystal Creek’s annual product catalog.

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Nutrient Deficiencies in Small Ruminants

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By Alex Austin, B.S.

A balanced diet is important for the health and productivity of all livestock. This article will discuss some of the more common nutrient deficiencies/imbalances in both sheep and goats. Minerals, specifically, are all connected and work together to keep animals healthy and productive. An excess or deficiency of one can lead to imbalances in another, causing potential health issues. For example, excess calcium can cause the blood vessels to lose vascular tone and eventually rupture. Potassium works with sodium to regulate the body’s water balance. It is important to be able to identify any signs of imbalance in order to correct and prevent issues in a herd.

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