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The Bob Veal Calf Concern

Jerry Bertoldo, Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

March 1, 2013
The Bob Veal Calf Concern

Bull calves in the dairy business are most often a topic that producers would rather not think about. The financial returns from selling them are usually low. There are unavoidable labor costs in their care. The sooner they leave the farm the better is the usual mantra. Too many of these critters become bob veal - early slaughtered calves with minimal economic value. Farmers are reluctant to put more time and effort into insuring a strong and healthy calf that has a good chance of entering a veal raising operation. This means holding on to these calves for some extra days risking the chance of scours or worse yet death. Veal managers do not want light, less vigorous and very young bull calves for fear of high loss rates as well. Experience tells them that larger and more active calves will do better and result in lower mortality rates and better feed conversion.

There has been another issue creeping onto the scene, that of antibiotic residues in bob veal. Few people are bold enough to think that treating a young calf directly with injectable antibiotics will not result in detectable tissue levels if that animal enters the food chain within a few days. The problem is generally not from injectable products, but from oral scour medications, medicated milk replacers and more rarely colostrum containing antibiotics. Neomycin has been the most common culprit.

Neomycin and tetracycline have both been included in some scour medications and milk replacers for many years. Labeling of these scour treatments can be misleading as to withdrawal times. Medicated milk replacers do not contain treatment levels of these antibiotics, but are formulated for use in heifer calves not calves destined for bob veal. Colostrum from cows treated with oil based dry treatments is most likely to carry residues of significance to the newborn calf. Dry treating less than the labeled days pre-calving, double tubing or treating a slack quarter can result in higher than expected first milking antibiotic levels.
Holding out milk on fresh cows according to the labeled recommendations on dry treatment and not feeding it to bull calves is an extra measure of safety. The vast majority of colostrum will not cause an issue, however. Feeding heifer colostrum to bull calves is a failsafe way of preventing colostrum based problems provided that the practice of dry treating springers is not in place.



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Upcoming Events

Temple Grandin to visit Ontario County

September 17, 2015
12:00 p.m.
Stanley, NY

Livestock handling talk and farm walk-through
Thursday, September 17, 2015
12 Noon - 3:30 PM
Lawnhurst Farms, LLC, 4124 County Road 5, Stanley, NY
This event is designed for dairy and beef farmers to help them improve livestock handling. There will be time after the program for questions and book signing.

Cost: $25 per person, includes a BBQ Beef lunch. Space is limited & lunch will be guaranteed only for those who pre-register.

Please register by September 10, 2015 at www.nwnyteam.org  or by writing out a check payable to CCE and mailing it with names of attendees to:

 CCE of Genesee County, Attn: Cathy Wallace, 420 E Main St. Batavia, NY 14020. 

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Latest Dairy Market Watch

An educational newsletter to keep producers informed of changing market factors affecting the dairy industry. How to Read Dairy Market Watch. Dairy Market Watch, July 2015 Report. 

Deadlines Reminder...

The new Farm Bill contains a number of important changes to USDA programs that will impact our farmers. They are outlined below:


The registration period for 2016 coverage for the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) is from July 1 to September 30, 2015.

Farmers who participated in the 2015 program will get an automatic increase to their Production History of 1.0261 or 2.61%. This will allow them to enroll just that much more milk marketing's. For producers who are signing up for the first time, they will get their production History as established according to the original rules, with no adjustment or "bump". The process for establishing a Production History is described in the MPP tools section of www.dairymarkets.org.


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The 2015 edition of the Cornell Integrated Field Crop Management Guidelines is available! New for 2015 are three different product options for the Cornell Guidelines. Users can obtain a print copy, online-only access or a package that combines print and online access. The print edition of the 2015 Field Crops Guide is $26 plus shipping. Online-only access is $26. A combination of print and online access costs $36.50 plus shipping costs for the printed book.

Cornell Guidelines can be obtained through your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office or from the Cornell Store at Cornell University. To order from the Cornell Store, call (800) 624-4080 or order online at: Cornell Store

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