Raising healthy calves: A lot of it is natural instinct
Spring Breeze Dairy
Consultant: Jennifer Wiley
- 1,350 calves and heifers raised on two sites
- Breeding heifers at 12 months of age
- Healthier calves at a lower investment in feed
“These heifers are tall, lean and growing quicker. They have that dairy look to them now.” That’s how staff at Spring Breeze Dairy describes the heifers in their youngstock program. The northeastern Wisconsin dairy started working with Cargill Calf and Heifer Specialist Jennifer Wiley in early 2015 to tackle growth and health challenges on the dairy. Heifers at that time were short and heavy. They also were losing a few calves each month from coccidiosis.
Jennifer helped Spring Breeze fix the coccidiosis issue while growing an animal that’s ready for breeding 30 days earlier than before. Heifers are bred at 12 months of age and come back at 1,400 pounds when they are 250 days post-breeding. Every other month, the Cargill team weighs a sample of 50 heifers to track heifer performance through all stages of growth. The data gives the dairy measurable results to compare against what they are seeing. Both the numbers and a visual test confirm that the calves are growing better with costs reductions in feed investment.
Expansion is the next stage for Spring Breeze Dairy and this step will place added stress onto the calf and heifer program. However, the dairy is a progressive operation with the right team and support in place to be successful. And with Jennifer’s natural instincts to catch problems before they become big ones, Cargill is able to feed their dairy dreams.