Quality calf care is a must, but in reality, a calf’s needs are fairly simple.
That is the philosophy Sarah Giebel, D.V.M., takes when working with farms that send newborn dairy replacements to Deer Creek Feeding, a custom calf and heifer raising facility in Dalhart, Texas.
“Calves are really not that complicated. Nature designed them, and we screw it up all the time,” Giebel said during a panel discussion at the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association’s recent annual conference. “The less we can do to screw it up, the happier the calf is and the happier I am.”
Giebel asks farms to keep calves dry, clean, and warm, and to make sure they are fed high-quality colostrum that is clean before sending them to their calf ranch. She emphasized those points several times during the panel discussion.
She said that ideally, dry cows are also well cared for, vaccinated, and protected from heat and cold.
“Everything really starts with the dry cow,” she explained. “If things aren’t going well for dry cows and in the maternity area, the calves are paying for it, and we will see it at the calf facility.”
Giebel said at their ranch, they try to work with their customers as much as possible to ensure arrival of a healthy calf. She said most people are motivated to do a better job when it comes to calves – sometimes, they just don’t know where they need to improve.