GFM Network News

Avoid giving your baby calves gut aches

It takes time for a calf stomach to develop to handle certain feeds

I visit literarily hundreds of dairy farms across Canada each year. On most, pre-weaned dairy calves are raised away from the main lactation barn or older replacement heifer facilities. Whether these baby calves are housed in hutches, group pens or brand-new calf barns, when I find a group of calves that are sick and not […] Read more

This is an actual picture of hairy heel warts taken by a dairy producer.

Controlling hairy heel warts in dairy cattle

A clean barn is part of preventative measures

Since the new year, I have travelled to many dairy farms across Western Canada and conducted a personal survey about lameness in dairy cattle. At each visit, I asked producers “What was their biggest cause of hoof problems?” Almost unanimously, their answer was “hairy heel warts!” This is no surprise, since multiple surveys conducted over […] Read more

Dairy Corner: How to optimize dry matter intake

Assess what’s happening at the feed bunk, supply proper ration

There is only one way I know to supply the essential nutrients to high-producing cows to yield large volumes of milk, milk-fat, milk-protein and solids — assure dairy cows optimize dry matter intake of good feed is at its best. As a dairy nutritionist, I am so convinced each bite of lactation diet counts that […] Read more

More whole milk is needed to meet the basic water requirement of pre-weaned calves.

Pre-weaned calves need extra water

Dairy Corner: Satisfying thirst also promotes good dry calf starter intake

Feeding milk replacer or whole milk does not provide enough water for growing pre-weaned dairy calves. Young calves have a natural requirement for water which is often higher and separate than what is provided by most milk-based feeding programs. By providing all the water needed, calves adapt to dry calf starter quicker, grow faster and […] Read more

Right and wrong fermentation

Dairy Corner: If silage moisture is too high going in, it can affect feed quality and palatability

This autumn, I have seen a variety of corn fields being chopped into silage for dairy cattle. While some of this corn was dried enough to make some good quality corn silage, I was surprised when I saw some producers literarily harvested green chop. After all, they were faced with another rain shower, which forced […] Read more

Dairy Corner: Twofold impact of heat stress

Reproduction setbacks may take longer to correct than milk production problems

This summer in the eastern Prairies seemed to be hotter and definitely more humid than in previous years. I noticed this year in particular had many August nights when the humidex barely fell below 25 C. In talking to dairy producers, some had the same experience and also noticed their heat-stressed cows’ milk production as […] Read more

Proper diet reduces risk of lame cows

A well-balanced ration and a clean barn are a great combination to keep dairy cows mobile

Recently, I conducted a barn walk in a 300-cow robot-milking dairy and within 10 minutes I spotted more than a half-dozen limping cows. I did not know what caused them to limp, but after I talked to the dairy manager, I discovered that lameness was a significant problem on his operation and several of these […] Read more

One of the challenges of putting up corn silage is to harvest when it is not too dry or too wet. Although water can be added to the ration to increase moisture content.

Test corn silage moisture for better milk production

The Dairy Corner: Dairy producers should test every time a new bag, bunk or silo is opened

There are three stages to the corn harvest in Manitoba. The first starts in September when the corn crop matures and whole plant moisture dries to about 35 per cent dry matter — it’s one of the best time to take off corn silage. The second occurs weeks later when the grain corn dries to […] Read more

Keeping dairy replacement heifers or any dairy cattle clean and dry can make a huge difference in overall performance.

Mud is a hotbed of disease and poor eating habits for dairy cattle

As little as four inches of mud can slow performance and it can 
be an excellent environment for disease affecting cattle health

Once I was checking the spring ration for a dairy producer who raised a group of replacement dairy heifers in a drylot. The mud was about a half metre deep and with each step toward the feeder, it was slow going. About half-way along, my boot got stuck and by struggling, I buried it. Abandoning […] Read more