BATAVIA, N.Y. — There are many shifts in our focus when it comes to raising dairy heifers today. The new Veterinary Feed Directive has made blanket feeding of antibiotics in milk, milk replacer or through crumbles more restrictive. Group housing of calves is more labor efficient and brings monitoring technology into play, but ups the ante regarding ventilation and level of animal care. Immune function now is looked at as a complex combination of everything from colostrum management to vaccination strategies, low stress environments, balanced nutrition and keeping the gut microbes healthy. Successful, economical, reproductive management for heifers must control the age at first calving and the cost for animals entering the milking string. Understanding the bovine genome has opened up new means to improving fertility thorough genetic selection. Looking at the economics of the heifer enterprise as a stand-alone business can be a revealing exercise.
The 2017 Calf & Heifer Congress offers insights into these and other timely topics. On-line registration is open though Monday, November 27. For further details and registration go to https://nwnyteam.cce.cornell. edu/event.php?id=563
—Cornell Cooperative Extension Genesee County
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