September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Over 100 women from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa gathered for the two-day event, held Aug. 16-17, which included tours of Udder Tech, Bonnie Mohr Studio and a day-long program at Enchanted Dairy, near Little Falls, Minn.
Caring for dehydrated calves
Dr. Matt Boyle of Freeport Veterinary Service and Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus's Calf Specialist, led one of three breakout sessions at Enchanted Dairy.
Boyle explained the farm's calf facilities and then gave a presentation about caring for dehydrated calves.
"Baby calves are 75 percent water and scouring calves can lose up to 20 percent of that in a day, " Boyle said, illustrating the importance of fluid therapy for dehydrated calves.
Boyle provided attendees with a guide for assessing calf dehydration levels and a flow chart for determining the appropriate fluid therapy for dehydrated calves.
Boyle said one of the most important things to remember is that moderately to severely dehydrated calves, as indicated by a weak suckle reflex or no suckle reflex at all, need intravenous fluids to restore hydration before they can be given oral electrolytes.
"Calves with no suckle reflex at all, even if they are standing, need IV fluids, not oral fluids. The lack of a suckle reflex tells us that the calf's digestive system isn't working and if we put something in her stomach, it's just going to sit there and give her garbage gut," Boyle said.
Boyle also explained guidelines for selecting oral electrolyte products. Oral electrolytes need to restore fluid and electrolyte levels, provide energy and correct acidosis, he said.
The primary difference between oral electrolyte products is the buffer used to correct acidosis. Common buffers in oral electrolytes are sodium bicarbonate and sodium acetate.
"[Sodium] acetate is the premium buffer for electrolyte products, " Boyle said. "Acetate doubles as an energy precursor for calves and doesn't alter the pH of the abomasum as sodium bicarbonate can."
Boyle concluded with a reminder that dehydration is not limited to scouring calves. Heat stressed calves and calves with pneumonia can also become dehydrated.
Working with family members
Jon Wilcox, a Vita Plus sales manager, led a breakout presentation about overcoming the challenges of working together with family members.
Wilcox shared results from a survey of men and women who work in a business with family members. Chick Day participants agreed with survey respondents that communication and attitude were crucial to making family businesses successful.
However, Wilcox said, we often forget the impact a family business's culture and values have on its success.
"We don't recognize culture as playing a role because we're swimming in it - it's all around us," Wilcox said.
He then shared an example of a family farm going through an expansion. The expansion changed the farm family's business strategy. But the family's culture and values didn't match the new strategy
"If culture doesn't buy into strategy, [the strategy] won't work, " Wilcox said. "The right strategy plus the right culture equals success."
About Enchanted Dairy
The final breakout session was a guided tour of Enchanted Dairy's internal rotary parlor, the original freestall barn and the dairy's new cross-ventilated 10-row barn.
Enchanted Dairy, owned by the Miller family, is operated by members of the Miller family and 24 employees. The farm's three sites house 1,600 milking cows, dry cows and baby calves, and replacement heifers.
Ron Miller explained the farm's newest addition - their cross-ventilated barn - to the tour group.
The barn, which was built in stages, houses four groups of cows. Two groups have three rows of freestalls and two groups have two rows of freestalls. Some of the stalls are equipped with mattresses while the rest are deep bedded stalls.
Ron said they've noticed that the cows in the two-row groups stay cleaner and have better access to the feed bunk.
The barn's unique ventilation system makes it something of a hybrid cross-ventilated barn. The barn was first used as a naturally-ventilated barn. This past winter, fans and curtain-type baffles were installed to help manage summer heat. The Millers decided to forgo installing cool cells and high pressure misters due to maintenance concerns.
"I like the way the barn ventilates in the winter, so the plan for this winter is to raise the baffles and shut the fans off," Ron said.
Following lunch on the farm, Trent Loos educated and entertained Chick Day participants with stories about the importance of teaching consumers about agriculture.
A couple years ago, Loos said, we had too many people who didn't know anything about modern agriculture.
"Now, we have too many educated people, but too much of what they know isn't so," Loos said. "We need to re-educate people."
Loos also included stories about everything ranging from the current drought to estrogen in the food supply to the school lunch program's new federal guidelines.
"The school lunch program is limiting meals to 450 calories and limiting meat options. In my opinion, this is a path to starvation," Loos said. "Just look at our grandparents. Our bodies were made to consume ample amounts of food and expend lots of energy. I don't think we should be lowering our kids' calorie intake to match their activity level. We should be increasing their activity level to match their intake."
Legacy Club donation
Chick Day also included a raffle to benefit the Minnesota FFA Foundation Legacy Club. The raffle raised over $1,600 for the Legacy Club, which supports the development of FFA chapters and agricultural education programs. The raffle's grand prize was Bonnie Mohr's new 'We Live to Share' print, which was commissioned for the Legacy Club.
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