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Posted By: Oliver - Farm Vet

Investing in the future

It’s springtime on the farm, and the idyllic picture of lambs in the fields is starting to appear. It’s also a time when some of our dairy farms calve all their cows, but in fact for most this is an all year round job. New born calves are the future of the dairy herd and farmers know investing in them today will have long-term benefits. For young calves the focus needs to be on the 5 C’s: Colostrum, cleanliness, calories, comfort and consistency.

Colostrum is the first energy-rich milk feed the calf receives. Unlike human babies calves are born without a functioning immune system and so this first meal also represents an essential source of antibodies to allow the calf to fight off any infections it may encounter early in life. Cleanliness of environment, feed, equipment and people allow the calf to grow up with minimal disease threats, whilst calories in the form of milk and later calf concentrates and straw ensure good growth and a strengthening of the immune system.

A comfortable bed of clean straw is obvious, but also the comfort of low stress environments such as minimising extremes of temperature and calm caring staff all help the calf thrive. Finally, like human babies, calves like a routine – the consistency of the same things in the same way, each and every day. By using the 5 C’s dairy farmers ensure they rear happy, healthy calves that will grow well and one day become long-lasting productive members of the adult milking herd – a secure investment in the future.

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