; Finding the Balance: Management of Calf Health versus Cost of Production | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Finding the Balance: Management of Calf Health versus Cost of Production

Sarah Mills-Lloyd


Margins in the dairy industry continue to tighten. Dairy farms are seeking opportunities to control costs, but also maximize the health of their heifers as dairy replacements are the foundation for genetic progress and improvement of the herd.

Since 1997, UW-Extension has sought to provide economic information on dairy replacements with four unique replications of the Intuitive Cost of Production Analysis (ICPA) for preweaned calves. In 2017, ICPA was conducted on 26 farms to provide economic information comparing automated group and individual calf feeding systems. It was determined the cost to raise a dairy calf on an automated calf feeding system to be $6.35 per calf per day as compared to $5.84 per calf per day on an individual calf feeding system.

But what do those costs mean? What management practices do these costs present? To help correlate health and management practices to calf rearing costs, a Preweaned Calf Health Management Survey was conducted simultaneously with 12 of the 26 participating farms. Each system was analyzed and compared on multiple key parameters, including: housing and ventilation, feed and nutrition, labor efficiency, colostrum management, health management, biosecurity, and recordkeeping management and training/treatment decisions.