Know How / Dairy / Youngstock management

Youngstock management is a crucial part of dairy herd profitability with replacement heifers key to the future milking herd and dairy-bred beef a vital source of income. Read advice on newborn calf care, disease prevention, genetics, growth rates, replacement heifer policy and first-time breeding protocols.

Case studies

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How a dairy farm is controlling mycoplasma using vaccination

Mycoplasma bovis is the number one cause of pneumonia in calves in the UK as well as causing mastitis and arthritis in older animals. It is difficult to treat and…


How Devon dairy lifted calf growth rates by 50%

Investing in calf housing and milk powder is paying dividends for a North Devon dairy farm, which has seen mortality and drug use fall and growth rates lift. The longer-term…


Purpose-built shed helps goat farm cut weaning age

Investing in a purpose-built rearing shed and adjusting kid management protocols have helped goat milk producer Will Frost to reduce age at weaning by up to two weeks. The 2019…


How dairy farmer makes over £6/kg from Jersey bull calves

When Devonshire dairy farmer Neil Weston switched from being a flying herd to breeding his own replacements it created an unwanted boom in dairy bull calves. But after being inspired…


How a bespoke calf barn cut antibiotic use and mortality

Switching from calf hutches to a bespoke calf rearing unit has slashed antibiotic use and is seeing zero mortality on a Canadian family farm. The Anderson family built the calf-specific…


Video: How a large dairy is keeping youngstock mortality low

A large US dairy is achieving exceptionally low mortality rates of 1% in its pre-weaned calves, and hitting daily growth rates of 800g up to weaning. About 1,800 calves will…

Practical advice

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Advice for ensuring heifers are the correct weight after calving

Too many heifers are still less than 85% of mature weight after calving because farmers try to "guesstimate" weights, says farm consultant Andy Dodd. Many farmers say they have had…


Guide to feeding newborn calves colostrum

The target of all good dairies should be to minimise mortality, and providing calves with enough good-quality colostrum as quickly as possible after calving is a vital first step to…


6 signs of pneumonia in calves to look out for

Pneumonia is a respiratory disease that causes inflammation of the lungs. An infection in pre-weaned calves can reduce milk production later in life by 10-15% depending on the severity. But…


How to prevent and treat scours in calves

While disease can be a trigger for calf scours, so can early calf nutrition, with the concentration of milk replacer having a direct effect on gastrointestinal environment. Osmolality is a…


Outsourcing heifer rearing: What you need to consider

Heifer rearing is one of the most important jobs on the farm because they are the future of your herd. However, if you haven’t got the time, resource or facilities,…



7 risk factors of pneumonia in calves and how to avoid them

Buying calves from multiple sources and feeding calves only once a day could be putting animals at risk of getting pneumonia, a study has found. AHDB assessed data from eight…


What are the benefits of milk replacer for calf rearers?

More than half of all dairy and beef farmers in Great Britain now rear their youngstock on calf milk replacer (CMR) instead of whole milk, with potential disease risks a…


Why textbook heifer growth rates may not be good enough

Dairying experts at home and abroad are questioning whether units are achieving heifer growth targets of 0.7-0.8kg/day and if this gain is sufficient for the modern Holstein. Concerted efforts to…


Pneumonia in calves: Pin down the cause and prevent it

Bacteria that cause pneumonia are fairly widespread and can live in a calf’s respiratory tract without causing disease. In the final part of this series, Caroline Stocks looks at what…


Pneumonia in calves: How farmers can cut the risk

The aim of Farmers Weekly’s new series is to help farmers reduce the costs of pneumonia
in calves. Caroline Stocks sets the scene with 
a look at the results of an…