Solving a problem no one else can see
Odessa, New York
Dairy Focus Consultant: Andy Danner
- Consistency, compassion and being proactive are keys to calf success
- Used outside of the box thinking to significantly decrease calf health issues
- Solved a problem that no one else could see
- Better grain intakes after switching to Cargill product
How do you resolve a problem that no one else can see? That was the predicament for Terri Tuckerman, who has been the calf feeder at Bergen Farms in Odessa, New York for the last 26 years. Everyone who walked her calves saw a solid calf program in place. However, to Terri something was off and her compassion for her calves wouldn’t let her be satisfied with solid when she knew it could be better.
One day, Terri realized that the calves that were experiencing increased health problems were getting pond water instead of well water. As this pattern continued, she was persistent in presenting her case. The team tested the water and found out that it was indeed contaminated. After switching the calves to well water Terri has seen immediate results in the appearance of her calves and has seen about an 80 percent decrease in health issues overall.
“Her persistence on this issue showcases her commitment and management skills, and how much she cares about these calves,” said Andy Danner, Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant.
Andy has been working with Terri for over three years, and they have meetings every Tuesday so that they can check on calves, evaluate the diet and continue discovering ways to improve. The calf program starts with colostrum, followed by pasteurized waste milk with HerdFirst® Whole Milk Enhancer to keep the nutrient levels consistent, and then the calves transition onto the HerdFirst® Total Calf grain until beginning a heifer diet.
By increasing milk consumption and encouraging faster grain intakes, the two are working on getting more growth in the calf program as well. One way they’ve started grain intakes sooner is by refreshing the grain more often than before. Since doing that, calves are eating more by the time they’re weaned and are visibly larger than before.
When Terri was hired at Bergen Farms there were only six calves. What started out as, “I’m going to stay here until I find a different job,” has turned into a passion for excellence in her job. As a result, she now has upwards of 275 calves in her care. Terri shares three simple, yet profound keys to her successful calf program:
- Consistency in the diet and care given
- Compassion for the calves, encouraging her to always go the extra mile
- Being proactive instead of reactive to health
Today, calves are raised in two different locations, where Terri is and at the new sister dairy up the road. This healthy rivalry has Terri dreaming up new goals – to raise bigger, better calves than the animals up the road.