Learn to Produce Healthy Calves
for greater profitability and less problems on the farm
Study the proper management of a cow's pregnancy and birth; and appropriately raising of a new animal.
This is a course for farmers, farm hands, breeders or anyone contemplating a future in the dairy or beef industries.
ACS Student Comment:
"Been working in the livestock (Dairy Cattle) industry for years and thought I knew it all. Calf rearing was one area I had limited knowledge of, and due to a new work role, I needed to know more... QUICKLY!!!
This course allowed me the freedom to work within the industry & learn at the same time. I learnt a lot of new and diverse calf rearing options that have now better prepared me for the 'real world' of calf rearing and my new role within the dairy industry. A great 'grounding' course, even for those who are hands on in raising claves. I have recommended this course to a few calf rearers already! I'd be happy to highly recommend the course to anyone with an interest in raising the next quality batch of calf replacements on their farm." Tiffany Gordon, Aust - Calf Rearing course.
Course Duration: 100 hours of self paced study
Successful completion of this course/module will develop your ability to independently analyse and make decisions about the management requirements of calf rearing.
There are 7 lessons in this course:
Lesson1 : Calving and Culling
- Research into raising dairy calves
- Principles of good calf rearing
- Pre-calving management
- Managing the cow for a healthy calf
- Colostrum management
- Calf selection
- Estimated Breeding Value (EBV)
- Assessing calves for suitability in a rearing system
Lesson 2: Calving Management
- The birth of a calf
- Signs that the birth is close
- Stages in a normal birth
- Calving problems
- Important points
- Abnormal presentations
- The calf at birth
- Stress and pathogen exposure
- Managing stress
- Managing pathogen exposure
- The calf digestive tract
- Rumen development
- Liquid in the rumen
- Outflows of rumen materials
- Absorptive qualities
- Substrate (Dry feed Intake)
Lesson 3: Calf Health Management
- Common calf diseases
- Round Worm Scours
- Lung worm
- Calf diptheria
- Clostridial Disease
- Navel and joint ill
- Stress and the young calf
- Transport stress
- Feeding stress
- Heat and cold
Lesson 4: Calf Rearing Systems
- Birth to weaning
- Natural Systems of Calf Rearing
- Single suckling
- Multiple suckling
- Foster suckling
- Race suckling
- Early weaning
- Artificial systems of calf rearing
- Teaching the calf to drink
- A basic Feeding program
- Milk Substitute
- Common calf rearing systems
- Rearing calves at grass
- Five and a half day system
- Once a day system
- Cold milk system
- Acidified milk replacers
- Mildly acidic milk replacers
- Strongly acidic milk replacers
- Milk-fed veal production
Lesson 5: Calf Housing
- Calf Pens
- Metal crates
- The calf hutch
Lesson 6: Weaning
- Stress at weaning
- General weaning transition strategies
- Providing water
- Weaning at twelve and eight weeks
- Weaning at five weeks
- Weaning at four weeks
Lesson 7: Post-weaning
- Post weaning period
- Calf husbandry practices
- Reducing surgical stress
- Cattle identification
- Bloodless castration
- Surgical Castration
- When to dehorn
- Dehorning instruments and equipment
- Vaccination and Worming
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
What You Will Do
- Select calves for specified purposes, including dairy stock, and breeding stock.
- Explain the methods of managing calving operations on a farm.
- Explain the diagnosis of common health problems which may occur in calves.
- Explain different techniques of calf rearing.
- Explain the housing requirements of calves in an animal production situation.
- Explain the procedures for weaning calves in an commercial situation.
- Explain the post-weaning requirements of calves, in a commercial situation.
- Explain the phenotype factors related to the selection of calves.
- Explain the genotype factors related to the selection of calves.
- Write a checklist of criteria for selecting calves for dairying.
- Explain how breeding can assist in obtaining calves for three different specified purposes.
- Describe the different stages in the normal birth of a calf.
- Explain the process of calving, in response to either observations of a calf being born, or the viewing of a video of a calf being born.
- Explain at least five problems that can occur during calving, on a typical property in the learner's locality.
- Analyse two case studies of problematic calving incidents.
- List at least four methods for over-coming specified calving problems.
- List the common health problems which can occur with calves in the learner's locality.
- Describe the symptoms of at least three common calf diseases, including scouring.
- Explain the possible effects of stress on a calf.
- Explain an appropriate treatment for at least three common calf diseases, including scouring.
- Develop guidelines for stock culling, for a specified property.
- Analyse data in a case study in order to diagnose the health problems of a calf.
- Report on an examination of the condition of a calf inspected by the learner.
- Describe calf husbandry techniques observed by the learner, including:
- Compare natural calf rearing techniques with artificial calf rearing techniques.
- Determine the appropriate method of calf rearing for a specified property.
- List the criteria which need to be satisfied in the design of calf housing facilities, in the learner's locality.
- Compare the suitability of different building materials for calf housing facilities, in different climates.
- Analyse calf housing facilities on a specified property in order to determine the appropriateness of their design.
- Prepare a design for a calf housing facility, including:
- A sketch/concept plan
- A description of materials
- An estimate of cost
- Explain the stages of weaning a calf on a property with which the learner is familiar.
- List the possible problems which may arise in weaning calves.
- Recommend suitable treatments for the weaning problems.
- Explain the stages of post weaning for a normal calf on a property with which the learner is familiar.
- List the problems which may arise with calves during the post-weaning period.
- Explain any variations that may be applied to the procedure of post-weaning a calf.
ASSESSING CALVES FOR SUITABILITY IN A REARING SYSTEM
This should be the first step of any selection process. Even if it is genetically superior, it is of no value at all if it is deformed or weak. The farmer should examine the calf shortly after birth, looking for the following:
The size and weight of the calf
A large calf will often grow into a large cow so many people try to target higher birth weights, but this can be counter productive. For most of the dairy breeds, a heifer calf should weigh 35 kg at birth although Jersey calves will weigh less than this. However, high birth weight is one of the most significant factors leading to calving difficulty. For this reason, it is best to use a Bull with an EBV the same or lower than that of the cow, but select one with a higher EBV for growth potential. In this way, calving difficulties can be reduced without impacting significantly on herd productivity. Having said this, calves that are born very small and weak may need to be culled.
Look particularly at the jaws to make sure they meet properly and are not undershot or overshot. The calf should also be examined for signs of blindness, loss of hair, a bent back etc. Any calf that is abnormal at birth should be killed and not kept for rearing. (Allow for normal unsteadiness and fuzzy vision at birth - both will noticeably improve as the hours pass).
Legs and feet
Make a very careful examination of the feet and legs of the calf and make sure they are straight and perfectly formed. Avoid calves that have very bent back legs which is a condition known as sickle hocks. All dairy animals have to walk back and forth to the dairy buildings as well as about the camps or paddocks while grazing so good, strong legs are essential.
Examine the teats of the young heifer calf carefully to make sure it has four teats that are well spaced out and not cramped together. This is most important if the animal is going to be milked with a machine later in life.
Properly managing the pregnancy, birth and raising of a new animal will inevitably result in less cost for the farmer, healthier adult cattle; and ultimately a more profitable farm.