CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Over the past few years, Penn State Extension has been hosting on-farm calf workshops in the fall for both producers and industry representatives. With the current COVID-19 restrictions still in place limiting the number of in-person meetings that can be offered, this fall’s workshops will look a little different. Instead of one topic-focused workshop, Extension will offer 6 different free virtual calf and heifer webinars, each one focusing on a specific area in calf and heifer production.
Beginning on Friday, October 16, a 6-week series of workshops will kick off online with Dr. Jud Heinrichs, Professor of Dairy Nutrition at Penn State University and Cassie Yost, Dairy Extension Educator discussing topics such as colostrum, rumen development, heifer growth, nutrition, and economics. All one-hour webinars will take place on Friday mornings at 11:00 AM and will include both presentations and video footage of on-farm testing methods and industry recommendations. Participants will need to register for each webinar that they are interested in. Registering for the first webinar will not automatically enroll you in the entire series. Separate meeting links will be sent for each webinar upon registration.
The first 3 weeks of webinars will revolve around the young dairy calf, focusing on newborn calf management, the importance of colostrum, and successful rumen evelopment in the growing calf. On Friday October 16, the first webinar titled Dairy Colostrum 101 will explain the nutritional composition of colostrum, the pathway of digestion, and the importance of quality, quantity, cleanliness, and timing of colostrum feeding. Curd formation and quality testing of colostrum will be demonstrated during the webinar.
Register for this webinar at https://extension.psu.edu/dairy-colostrum-101. Friday October 23 will focus on Feeding and Managing the Newborn Dairy Calf. A good nutritional start for a newborn dairy calf promotes good health, growth, and viability of this future replacement animal. This webinar will explore the various liquid feeding options and systems available for dairy calves, analyzing the economics, benefits, and growth comparisons between the different feeding options. A step-by-step guide to handling the newborn dairy calf will be demonstrated during the webinar.
Registration can be completed at https://extension.psu.edu/feeding-and-managing-the-newborn-dairy-calf. To warp up the calf portion of the webinars, Friday, October 30 will cover Rumen Development in the Dairy Calf. The key element to nutritional success for the dairy calf is rumen development. This webinar will discuss the process of rumen development, papillae formation, and the steps necessary to achieve nutritional success in the growing dairy heifer. Examples of different calf grains will be shown during the webinar as well as dissected calf stomachs in various stages of development. Register for this webinar at https://extension.psu.edu/rumen-development-in-the-dairy-calf.
The final 3 weeks of the webinar series will focus on heifers, particularly on growth, nutrition, and economics. On Friday, November 6, Dairy Heifer Growth and Development will explain the importance of monitoring the growth and development of dairy heifers for meeting industry benchmarks, making culling decisions, and the overall economic impacts on your farm. The various tools available to help track the growth and development of your heifers will be discussed as well as a demonstration on how to utilize calf and heifer weigh tapes and height measurement tools.
Registration for this webinar can be found at https://extension.psu.edu/dairy-heifer-growth-and-development. The following Friday on November 13, a webinar focusing on heifer nutrition will be offered. Dairy Heifer Nutrition 101 will focus on balanced diets for good health and proper weight management. Different feeding styles and the nutritional requirements of heifer diets will be discussed in this webinar. On-farm recommendations for housing and feed space will also be included.
Register for this webinar at https://extension.psu.edu/dairy-heifer-nutrition-101. The final webinar of the series will take place on Friday November 20 focusing on Dairy Heifer Economics. This economics webinar will explore the costs associated with raising replacement animals which include feeding costs, how age at first calving affects the bottom line, and other ways that management of growing heifers can affect production costs. A demonstration of how to use the information on a 202 sheet to calculate the number of heifers needed on an individual farm will be included in the webinar. Register for this webinar at https://extension.psu.edu/dairy-heifer-economics.
As the temperatures continue to fall outside, and fall harvest wraps up, treat yourself to a little Friday morning break and join us for these interactive webinars with a cup of coffee in the comfort of your home. For any questions or help with registration, contact Cassie Yost at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 717-263-9226.
–Cassie Yost, Penn State Extension, Franklin County