Raising calves on an organic dairy farm in Western Washington is challenging. We have been certified organic since 2006. It has been a total reeducation raising calves. We did a great job raising calves when we were conventional, but we had so many tools at our fingertips to help us care for calves who became sick. When we transitioned to organic, we quickly realized things were different. We quickly learned that prevention is the “Key”!! You know that product “Airborne”?? The commercials recommend taking it before a trip on a plane because it will help you to prevent getting sick. Well, we needed to adopt that similar philosophy but on a daily basis. The keys to raising healthy organic dairy calves are simple.
1. Environment – clean and dry bedding and good ventilation
2. Vaccinations – Vaccinations help to prevent disease so get a good schedule and stick to it!!
3. Colostrum – The first 2 feedings should be 2 bottles of good quality Colostrum. No questions, no excuses.
It is pretty simple but like everyone, I get busy and short cut steps. When this does happen, I quickly begin to experience problems. But if I get back to these simple steps, I get quickly back on track. I am so excited to raise my calves in my new calf barn we have been busy building of the last year. Check out the amazing pictures. The amazing Calf Tel pens, group pens, flush system, and curtains. It is going to be a great place to raise organic dairy calves in the future.