Solutions for these problems and more will be at Healthy Calf Conference (HCC) this year! HCC is known for our impressive line-up of speakers sharing practical advice with our audience of progressive calf-care staff and producers.

This year, draft speakers and topics include:

The art of calf nutrition
Dr. Micheal Ballou, Texas Tech University

What if reducing the risk of respiratory disease and scours in your calves was as easy as feeding them the right diet? It can be! Dr. Ballou will share the secrets to feeding calves to prevent these common calfhood diseases by developing calf immunity through nutrition. Michael Ballou is an Associate Dean for Research and a Professor of Nutritional Immunology in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University. He completed a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of California, Davis in 2002. Michael remained at UC Davis and completed a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biology with an emphasis in Immunology in 2007. Michael’s research is primarily focused on how nutrition and management influence the health and performance of dairy calves, heifers, and periparturient cows. He has authored or co-authored over 60 peer-reviewed articles, 1 book chapter, and 120 scientific meeting abstracts. Michael has received research support from private foundations, industry, the USDA, and the US State Department.

Aiming for zero mortality – a calf care panel

The old saying, “Where you have livestock, you have deadstock,” can seem especially true among pre-weaned calves. What if it was possible to not only reduce your mortality rate, but have zero mortality in your calf barn? These progressive calf managers are examples that you can have extremely low, or even zero mortality in your calf herd. They will share the tips and tricks they use to help their calves thrive. Be prepared to ask questions to get the most out of this interactive panel.

Aaron Keunen

Aaron is a graduate of Ridgetown College, University of Guelph. As a part owner, he works with Mapleview Agri Ltd in Palmerston, Ontario. Mapleview Agri is a family owned business specializing in the manufacturing of milk replacer. He started with Mapleview Agri in 2013 as their Cattle Division Manager, where he manages 18 contract cattle feeders in southwestern Ontario. This includes cattle procurement, marketing and protocol implementation. Since then, his role has evolved to include Research Coordinator, as well as Sales Support in Western Canada. In 2016, Mapleview Agri built a research facility that houses 320 calves and completes milk replacer and feed additive trials. As research coordinator, he connects with industry partners and academic institutions to arrange and conduct research projects. Aaron believes implementing validated calf protocols through research is an important pillar in reducing calf mortality on any operation.

Jayne Dietrich

Jayne is a graduate of Centralia College , where she was a class 9 participant of Advanced Agricultural Leadership. She is an alumni of Outstanding Young Farmers (representing Ontario), and past president of Bruce County Federation of Agriculture. Jayne, along with her husband Ralph, son Greg, and son-in-law Andrew Bennett own Character Dairy Genetics in Mildmay, ON. They are responsible for the birth of 80-100 calves per month and raise up to 350 bottle-fed calves at a time in Wisconson-style barns. Like the title of this panel, “Aiming for zero mortality” is certainly a goal of their operation.

Laura Schuurman

Laura grew up on a dairy farm in central Alberta where her parents and brother continue dairy farming today.  She moved to Ontario to attend the University of Guelph and after obtaining a degree in biology in 2006, she began working as a herdsperson for Joe Loewith & Sons.  At that point they were milking around 250 cows.  Since then, the herd has expanded to approximately 450 milking. Laura’s responsibilities have diversified within the herd, but she remains the primary calf manager. By working with the progressive owners at Joe Loewith & Sons, Laura has been able to implement a calf program that has reduced calf mortality to nearly zero.

Group housing of calves: why, when, and how?
Dr. Trevor DeVries, University of Guelph

Ready to make the transition to group-housed calves? Already grouping your calves but seeing some health or behaviour problems? Group housing calves isn’t as simple as putting all your calves into one pen. Dr. DeVries will share top tips on grouping calves, why grouping calves can be beneficial, when calves should be grouped, and how to introduce calves to groups.

Dr. Trevor DeVries is a Canada Research Chair in Dairy Cattle Behavior and Welfare and Professor in the Department of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph. Trevor received his B.Sc. in Agriculture from The University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2001. Immediately following he began graduate studies at UBC, where he received his Ph.D. in 2006. Following that, he spent one year as a post-doctoral fellow with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. In 2007 he was appointed as faculty with the University of Guelph in the Department of Animal Biosciences. In that position Trevor leads a highly productive research program focused on dairy cattle nutrition, management, behavior, and welfare.

How your veterinarian can help you reach your calf-raising goals
Dr. Dave Renaud, University of Guelph/ACER Consulting

Are calves included in your regular herd health visits, or are they overshadowed by milking herd health concerns? By ensuring your veterinarian includes calves in the herd health visit, you are able to ensure the future of your herd will be as profitable as possible. Calves who receive the highest quality care will provide a high return on investment once they enter the milking herd. Your veterinarian is an extra set of eyes in the calf barn and can be key to overcoming common calf health challenges. Calfhood disease is common, but it shouldn’t be normal! Working closely with your veterinarian can help calves avoid the common roadblocks to success.

Dr. Dave Renaud is an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph and Consultant at ACER Consulting. His research focus is on identifying factors associated with calf health, specifically in the veal sector. Dave developed an interest in the health and welfare of dairy calves during his time working with a large veal operation and through the development of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Veal Cattle. He is also a practicing veterinarian who focuses on preventative medicine to improve the health and welfare of dairy cows and calves.