Friday, October 21, 2011

Nursing Baby Calves

The weather was perfect last week when I had University of Arkansas nutrition students touring the dairy farm. When we were looking at baby calves in their individual calf hutches, one of the students asked me what we did when the weather got cold. My quick reply was that I put on warmer clothes.  I didn't realize that I would be adding those warmer clothes this week! When the weather man said it was twenty nine degrees with wind this morning, I suited up for calf feeding chores with my hooded sweatshirt and coveralls.Although you can't see it, I always have my nursing hat on when I go to feed calves!

Temperature and weather changes like we have had this week create a stress for our baby calves and stress can lead to illness. Even though the inside of the individual calf hutch is warm and cozy, each calf will be closely monitored for any signs of pneumonia.  As we feed the calves, I observe their activity and eating behavior and listen for coughing or unusual breathing that may occur if they are getting sick.  After all the calves are fed, I will walk through the rows of hutches for a second observation of each calf.   It is important to monitor baby calves closely and if necessary treat with medication prescribed by our veterinarian.

Raising healthy baby calves is a job I take seriously because these calves will eventually be part of our milking herd. I've used my nursing degree everyday on the farm-raising baby calves and kids!  Our commitment to producing quality milk starts every day in the calf hutches with consistent,vigilant care making sure each calf is healthy.

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