More than 220 dairy producers gathered in St. Louis, Mo., last month for the Calf and Heifer VIP program, hosted by Purina Animal Nutrition.
This year's attendees represented 121 dairy farms and more than 86,000 calves and heifers. Attendees had the chance to learn about a wealth of topics ranging from newborn calf diseases, calf ventilation and housing, colostrum and electrolyte feeding to strategies to control flies on farm.
Attendees also had the opportunity to hear first-hand from three producers engaged by Purina Animal Nutrition for their successes in calf raising. Sharing insights on calf raising practices, the panel consisted of Laura Finger, Finger Family Farm in Oconto, Wis., Greg Ziegler, Ziegler Dairy Farms in Middleton, Wis., and Mike Larson, Larson Acres in Evansville, Wis. Finger, Ziegler and Larson shared their experiences feeding calves to a higher plane of nutrition and how that resulted in supported calf health and improved growth. Other strategies adapted by the panelists include automated feeders and feeding three times per day.
"Each year our goal is to provide a forum for calf managers and dairy producers to exchange ideas, insights and management expertise about calf and heifer nutrition, and overall calf management," says Dr. Dari Brown, director livestock young animal marketing with Purina Animal Nutrition LLC.
Hands-on demonstrations led by Purina Animal Nutrition's regional calf and heifer specialists rounded out this year's event.
Purina Animal Nutrition LLC (www.purinamills.com) is a national organization serving producers, animal owners and their families through more than 4,700 local cooperatives, independent dealers and other large retailers across the United States. Driven by an uncompromising commitment to animal excellence, Purina Animal Nutrition is an industry innovator, offering America's leading brands of complete feeds, supplements, premixes, ingredients and specialty technologies for the livestock and lifestyle animal markets. Headquartered in Shoreview, Minn., Purina Animal Nutrition LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O'Lakes, Inc.
Gary Geisler, dairy calf and heifer specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition, recently lead a hands-on demonstration at the 2013 Calf and Heifer VIP event in St. Louis, Mo. Geisler suggested attendees evaluate the openings of their calf nipples. If the nipples are open too large calves can aspirate milk which can cause pneumonia.
Hay should not be introduced to calves until 3 months of age, that according to Nick Stagg dairy calf and heifer specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition. Stagg shared with attendees at the 2013 Calf and Heifer VIP event in St. Louis, Mo., that if hay is introduced too early, proper rumen development will not take place.
Research continues to show that the growth of rumen papillae is directly correlated with what the calf eats in the first few weeks of life. Dr. Dari Brown, director livestock young animal marketing with Purina Animal Nutrition LLC, discussed the latest research on rumen development with attendees at the 2013 Calf and Heifer VIP event in St. Louis, Mo.