By Dr. Boy name Litherland, Vita add to dairy youngstock technological specialistThe finest dairy calf and also heifer raisers place significant value on knowing the birthweight that calves. Birthweight is the starting point because that knowing just how to control variation in response to quantity of milk fed as well as permitting producers come accurately calculate calf growth. 

Weighing calvesWeighing child calves is not the most basic task to attain on many farms. First, an investment in a digital platform scale is necessary. This scale have to be dedicated to weighing newborns only. Weigh newborn calves on a clean platform scale shortly after ~ birth. Record the weight, ID, time that birth, dam, and date top top a data catch form. Part producers room using RFID come scan calf weight, ID, date, and also time directly into DairyComp 305. 

A simple, open-platform scale is wanted over a scale provided for enlarge calves. Some producers usage an easy-to-clean poly garden dare to wheel calves ~ above the scale. Be certain the dare is tared ~ above the scale. A common resource of error is weighing calves after colostrum has actually been fed (subtract 9 pounds if calves space fed a gallon that colostrum). Digital scales can be sensitive to moisture; be sure the scale electronics are sealed and also kept dry. 

VariationCalf bear bodyweight can vary by as much as 60 pounds in a usual Holstein herd with the mean newborn heifer calf weighing 85 pounds. Sources of bear bodyweight variation incorporate twins, season that calving, calving early, heifer dams, and also use that calving lull bulls. The graph listed below demonstrates sports in median birth bodyweight in the course of a year on one huge Wisconsin dairy. The typical birth bodyweight for the year to be 82.9 pounds with calves born in December and also January averaging 75.5 pounds (9 percent less).

Average birth bodyweight transparent a year on a Wisconsin dairy products farm.

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Using the dataKnowing bear bodyweight help producers dial in your nutrition regime to minimization over- or underfeeding calves. The very first two weeks have a large impact top top calf growth. Overfeeding calves puts calves at danger for nutritional scours and also increases the incidence the complications, such together systemic infection and respiratory disease. Underfeeding calves boundaries their capability to grow and also maintain health. 

Targeting a feeding rate of 1.3 to 1.6 percent the bodyweight in milk solids (4 come 5 quarts of milk every day) in the first 10 come 14 days offers calves with enough nutrition there is no overfeeding milk. Having actually a little calf/big calf program based on birth bodyweight has actually been successful in decreasing sport in the feeding program. Because that example, if 85 pounds is the average birth bodyweight, climate calves weighing much less than 85 pounds space fed 4 quarts per day when calves over 85 pounds space fed 5 come 6 quarts the milk every day. After day 14, most healthy Holstein calves deserve to handle 6 quarts per day.

EvaluationWeigh calves in ~ the end of the nursery phase to evaluate nutrition and management in her calf program. Average day-to-day gain (ADG) is the main measure provided to monitor the nursery program. Calf development is a enjoy of calf health, nutrition, management and the environment. Birth bodyweight is subtracted native calf weight at the finish of the nursery phase.


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The remainder is then divided by the number of days in the nursery phase to calculate ADG (pounds per day). Aim because that at the very least 1.5 pounds every day with 56 days, with closer come 1.6 pounds every day together the best target.