June is Dairy Month which means Dairy Breakfast, Farm City Days and Dairy Food Specials are common in the dairy communities around the country. These events provide a great opportunity to show the consumer how we take care of our cattle and the effort it takes to produce the food and products they enjoy. Opponents of modern agriculture may say we need to return to the old way of doing things and use fear mongering of “Factory Farms” in their message. Some interesting dairy farm statistics of today’s dairy farms compared to dairy farms in 1944 show how today’s farms need fewer cows and resources while producing significantly less waste and green house gases. Source J. of Animal Science, 2009
Resources Used and Waste Produced Per Billion Kg of Milk Produced, 2007 vs. 1944
Currently the dairy industry is at a 6 year low for milk price. A fortunate item for dairy producers is the current value of bull calves and cull cows due to the low beef supply. Bull calves are bringing $400 to $500 per head for a week old calf. Dairy beef will account for about 14% of the beef produced in the country. An interesting marketing observation is that the image of a Holstein is often used to depict beef in fast food advertising even though dairy is a small portion of the total beef supply.
Dairy steers and at time dairy heifers are more profitable as beef animals than the traditional beef steers. Some dairy farms are breeding a portion of their herd to beef breeds to capture additional profits by selling of all those calves as beef animals. A good start is critical for dairy steers and heifer.
A good start begins at birth. At $500 per head, getting adequate colostrum into the new born calf is critical for both bull and heifer calves. Another difference for dairy calves is the age at weaning. Weaning is one of the highest risk times for calf health issues. Most dairy calves are weaned at 6 to 8 weeks of age. A successful weaning requires acquiring and maintaining a certain level of starter feed intake. If calves transition poorly it is often due to low starter intake resulting in energy, protein and nutrient deficiencies that reduce growth and can compromise immune function and health.
CRYSTALYX® Brigade® Stress Fighting Formula is a unique low moisture self-fed supplement that provides key nutrients and additives to help stimulate feed and water intake during the weaning period. The calves like the taste and get that little extra nutrition they need to get through the stress of weaning, pen changes and group housing greatly improves total feed intake and performance. Another benefit is the folks from town that are on the farm for the Dairy Breakfast will think it is great the calves have a treat to lick on. Enjoy June and celebrate Dairy Month with some extra ice cream.