Tuesday, March 31, 2009

a brief visit from two angels

I am exhausted, and grieving, but life on a farm goes on.  Last Thursday we were visited by two angels.

  CJ, the dog, wouldn't leave the barn.  Apparently, since he is indeed part "cattle dog" he found his calling.  He wouldn't let the chickens near the calves.
He was diligent.  It was endearing.

I have seen week old calves, but have never spent much time with them.  They are so, so, so cute - it's nearly indescribable how very precious they are.  

Two Jersey bull calves were delivered Thursday evening.  They were less than a week old.  We started them on Milk Replacer and I taught the littlest one (with the bottle above) to drink out of a bowl.  After they ate, the bigger one (in the picture with CJ) lay down.  We put them in their comfy stall and bid them goodnight.

The bigger calf (#1) died just after noon.  

the culprit:  e. Coli. infection

read more about bottle calves here

The littler calf (#2) died Sunday night.  

If you ask me, I think there is a major problem with the way that bull-calves are handled.  This article parallels my thoughts, somewhat.

Dairy Calf Management…
Early care determines what you get for your bull calves
Part 2 in 5 part series

This 5 part series is provided by the Veal Quality Assurance Program.  The series suggests ways of managing calves to increase the value of bull calves, but the techniques discussed will benefit heifer calves as well.

Calf care is a major area of lost economic opportunity in dairy production.  Many producers do not realize that what is good for the heifer is good for the bull, and what is good for the bull calf is good for dairy herd profitability.  Improved management of ALL calves on the farm will benefit the overall herd program, the milk market, the calf market and the producer’s farm income.  How calves are managed in the first hours and days of life determines their potential as dairy replacement or veal grow-out.
Today, 80% of the nation’s veal supply comes from dairy calves going to special fed veal growers where they are raised to about 20 weeks of age at a weight of 400 to 500 pounds.  Only 14% of Holstein bull calves leave the dairy farm in the proper health and condition.

Industry and university studies indicate that calves which acquire a higher level of passive immunity in the first hours after birth are worth $20 to $25 more in their first four weeks of life, based on this single management factor.  Not only are they healthier, less likely to die or incur treatment costs, and more likely to reach their potential - they also demonstrate faster growth and better gain, using less feed than their counterparts with low serum antibodies.

The quantity, quality and timing of colostrum feeding accomplishes far more than any vaccine or injection in protecting calf health and promoting long-term production and profitability.  Four to six quarts of colostrum should be fed daily for at least the first three days of life.  However, time is of the essence.  The calf’s ability to absorb these antibodies from the lining of the small intestine directly into the bloodstream diminishes every hour as cell structures mature during the first 24 to 36 hours of life.

At the same time, calves are most vulnerable to ingested bacteria or viruses because these molecules are also absorbed easily into the bloodstream before gut closure.  Whatever gets there first - antibodies or bacteria - are immediately absorbed by the calf to determine its future health and profit potential.

First colostrum is the only antibody source for disease protection in newborn calves.  It also contains vitamin E necessary for the four to six week process of immune system development.  Colostrum is a source of important growth factors and hormones.  The quality of the colostrum is determined by herd health, nutrition and immune status and the dry cow management program.

That's all for now.


maurerjen said...

Sheila, I'm so sorry. :( Do you think you'll be getting any more calves?

Debra said...

They are ADORABLE!!!!! I wish we had room for a cow or two....there are cattle across the road, and every time one of the new calves comes up to the fence, I think, "If she/he gets out and wanders over here, will they miss it?" hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Glad to hear you are keeping busy in a good way. LOL flip flops--definitely not high on the list of farming accessories.

I wore a pair of crocs out to the chicken compound, and ended up right on my butt. It was as slick as, well, you know! Crocs--also not good footwear on a farm!

Good to see a post! Hope you have time for more.


What is this leisure time of which you speak?

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