The 6 C’s of Successful Calf Rearing

Published on Thu, 01/25/2018 - 9:34am

 The 6 C’s of Successful Calf Rearing

 By Steve Weisman

Today’s dairy producers are realizing more than ever before the importance of the health of their dairy herd, and that starts with the wellbeing of their calves. The question is where do you start? Who can answer specific producer questions about their calves? Calf-Star LLC  (, located in New Franken, Wisconsin is the only calf care company that offers the complete calf feeding solution. Calf-Star provides the best in calf rearing solutions-everything from their own HTST calf milk pasteurizers to automatic calf feeders and dispensers to calf housing. At the same time, Calf-Star is the North American distributor for Holm & Laue, a manufacturer of calf feeders and smaller batch pasteurizers located in Westerrönfeld, Germany.
“It really comes down to the 6 C’s of successful calf rearing,” says Minnie Ward, Sales Representative and Calf Specialist with Calf-Star. “We are the only calf care company that can help dairy producers with the 6 C’s, including colostrum, calories, consistency, cleanliness and comfort.“ Scientific studies have shown that by addressing the 6 C’s, calves grow better, are less susceptible to disease and much higher milk production can be expected in the future. At the same time, utilizing Calf-Star products help dairies become more efficient, cost effective and profitable.
Let’s take a look at the 6 C’s of successful calf rearing:

This milky fluid, colostrum contains carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and proteins (antibodies) that fight disease-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses. This is especially important for the newborn calf, since its immune system is not fully developed at birth. This is where a pasteurizing unit is necessary. Calf-Star offers the Mini Batch Colostrum/Milk Pasteurizer, a batch pasteurizer that will pasteurize both colostrum and waste milk.  
According to Greg Abts, owner and manager, the Mini Batch unit is an excellent tool for the producer to utilize non-saleable milk and high cell count milk. It also saves having to continuously purchase milk replacer. There is also the Milk Taxi series with the colostrum option. Colostrum can be pasteurized in the Milk Taxi with a special 60 degree C and 60 minute program. Colostrum is pasteurized in bags, roughly 5 at a time, in the Milk Taxi. A bracket at the bottom of the tank keeps the bags from getting stuck in the agitator.

Ward says, “At one time, calves were fed twice a day. However, we have found that for calves to achieve their maximum growth potential, multiple feedings two-three-four times a day are more desirable depending on each calf. We can control the calorie intake to better reach our goals. We know exactly what the returns are and what has been targeted. With Calf-Star’s Milk Taxi 4.0 and the HL 100 automatic calf feeder, we can provide the optimum balance for each calf.”  The Milk Taxi 4.0 is an all in one machine that heats, stores, cools, pasteurizes, mixes milk replacer, transports the milk and dispenses the ration to the calves. Through the use of the Calf-Star products, dairy producers are realizing a wide range of benefits.

Kevin Erf of Erf Family Farms near Monroeville, OH, says, “With the installation of the H&L 100, it has allowed us to be a calf manager and not just a calf feeder. It has also allowed us to double our operation without adding any extra labor costs.”

With Calf-Star products, producers are assured that the ration being offered is always the same. Ward says, “Consistency is extremely important. With the refractometer reading, everything is calibrated, and we can increase or decrease milk solids and the calories based on the readings. It all comes down to knowing that the consistency will always be there.” Calf-Star gives its customers the tools and the expertise to help them make decisions and reach their goals. Abts adds, “With these tools, we make feeding easier and can help producers get nicer, healthier calves. It’s easy to increase what each calf needs.”
Karen Naatz, a dairy producer from Mantorville, MN, says this about use the consistency of using the MilkTaxi. “This is one of the best investments we have made for the calves. The calves seem healthier, each calf gets the correct amount and at the right temperature every feeding. I haven’t had any large scour outbreaks since we started using the MilkTaxi.”
Jim Toop of Beaverbrook Farms in British Columbia adds, “We had thought about purchasing a milk pasteurizer for our calves in the past, and so when we recently switched to a robotic milking system, the Milk Taxi was an easy choice as it integrated perfectly with the rest of our system. The Milk Taxi allows us to feed our calves more efficiently and precisely, and it is so easy to use, anybody can feed the calves without hassle. We would recommend the Milk Taxi to anyone, robotic milking system or not.”

Hygiene is paramount. Disease is always a concern, but with Calf-Star products, cleanliness is always at the front, and Calf-Star’s goal is to keep calves healthier. The Hygiene Station, for instance, makes sure that after each calf’s feeding, the nipple is sprayed with a sanitizer to eliminate bacteria. In addition, the entire milk pipeline right to the nipple is flushed after each calf’s done feeding.  
Justin Wagner of Wagner Farms near Litchfield, MN appreciates the improvements made in their new hygiene feeder.  “It’s much easier to train calves with the nipple angle and primer button. Daily maintenance is simpler; the mucous tray is easy to wash. It has a self-cleaning nipple washer and the nipples are very easy to change with the snap-back feature. It also identifies calves much quicker through the RFID tags. The stall sides are easier to wash down. I feel it has been a great investment and worth consideration on other farms.”

If the animals are comfortable in their surroundings, everything seems to be that much better. Abts notes that Calf-Star consultants often work with producers to make the surroundings the most comfortable and efficient. “We can make recommendations on barn design based on the goals and what the customer has in mind.” Large, small, individual or group…Calf-Star has the answer to make conditions better for healthier and more productive cattle.
Well, that’s 5 of the C’s, and the one left to discuss? The 6th C is Calf-Star, and why not? After all, Calf-Star is the complete calf solution for any dairy. Abts says, “We are all about calves. Our product line from feeding to housing to husbandry is tailored to meet the needs of the producers.” Innovative designs and technology make Calf-Star products the most cutting edge, yet the most user-friendly calf solution products on the market. Dealers are located across the United States and Canada, and the website offers both customer and technical support.