By Dr. Boy name Litherland, Vita add to dairy youngstock technological specialistThe finest dairy calf and heifer raisers place significant value on understanding the birthweight that calves. Birthweight is the beginning point because that knowing exactly how to manage variation in solution to quantity of milk fed too as allowing producers come accurately calculation calf growth. 

Weighing calvesWeighing newborn calves is no the simplest task to accomplish on most farms. First, an invest in a digital platform range is necessary. This scale should be specialized to weighing newborns only. Weigh newborn calves ~ above a clean platform scale shortly after ~ birth. Record the weight, ID, time of birth, dam, and also date ~ above a data capture form. Part producers are using RFID come scan calf weight, ID, date, and time straight into DairyComp 305. 

A simple, open-platform range is desired over a scale used for older calves. Some producers usage an easy-to-clean poly garden cart to wheel calves top top the scale. Be sure the cart is tared ~ above the scale. A common resource of error is weighing calves ~ colostrum has been fed (subtract 9 pounds if calves space fed a gallon of colostrum). Digital scales deserve to be perceptible to moisture; be sure the scale electronic devices are sealed and kept dry. 

VariationCalf bear bodyweight can vary by as much as 60 pounds in a common Holstein herd v the mean newborn heifer calf weighing 85 pounds. Resources of birth bodyweight variation encompass twins, season that calving, calving early, heifer dams, and also use of calving lull bulls. The graph listed below demonstrates sports in mean birth bodyweight in the food of a year on one huge Wisconsin dairy. The mean birth bodyweight because that the year to be 82.9 pounds v calves born in December and also January averaging 75.5 pounds (9 percent less).

Average bear bodyweight throughout a year top top a Wisconsin dairy farm.


Using the dataKnowing bear bodyweight helps producers dial in your nutrition routine to minimize over- or underfeeding calves. The very first two weeks have a large impact ~ above calf growth. Overfeeding calves place calves at hazard for nutritional scours and also increases the incidence the complications, such as systemic infection and also respiratory disease. Underfeeding calves borders their capability to grow and also maintain health. 

Targeting a feeding price of 1.3 to 1.6 percent that bodyweight in milk solids (4 to 5 quarts of milk per day) in the an initial 10 come 14 days offers calves with adequate nutrition without overfeeding milk. Having a small calf/big calf program based on birth bodyweight has been effective in decreasing variation in the feeding program. Because that example, if 85 pounds is the mean birth bodyweight, climate calves weighing less than 85 pounds are fed 4 quarts per day while calves above 85 pounds are fed 5 to 6 quarts that milk per day. After day 14, most healthy and balanced Holstein calves have the right to handle 6 quarts per day.

EvaluationWeigh calves in ~ the finish of the nursery step to advice nutrition and also management in her calf program. Average everyday gain (ADG) is the primary measure provided to screen the nursery program. Calf growth is a have fun of calf health, nutrition, management and the environment. Bear bodyweight is subtracted native calf weight at the end of the nursery phase.

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The remainder is then split by the variety of days in the nursery phase to calculate ADG (pounds per day). Aim because that at least 1.5 pounds per day with 56 days, through closer come 1.6 pounds per day together the ideal target.