Five truths about raising Jerseys
Jersey calves are gaining popularity across dairy and calf raising operations in many parts of the country. Similar to all calves, the first 60 days of a Jersey’s life is critical to the future of their performance. But Jerseys have the following unique characteristics that raisers should keep in mind to help optimize their lifetime potential.
- Jerseys are born small, with little body fat
At birth, ensure Jerseys are in a warm environment. In cool and cold weather, place calves in a dry, heated environment that is free from drafts before moving them to a hutch. Also, use calf jackets to help keep them warm.
Colostrum with adequate antibodies should be harvested clean within two hours of parturition. Feed three quarts of warm colostrum within two hours after birth, followed by a second feeding six to eight hours later. This will help ensure passive transfer of antibodies. An appropriate feeding rate for Jerseys is 10% of body weight or three to four quarts per feeding.
Vaccinate dams to help bolster colostrum and improve immunity.
- Jerseys need more fat in their diet
Jerseys have a higher maintenance energy requirement than other breeds. A high content of protein and fat in the milk or milk replacer, such as 28% protein, 25% fat milk replacer, can help meet these nutritional requirements to closely mimic whole milk. This type of feed content may cause watery or ‘loose’ manure for Jersey calves, although they are still healthy. Energy requirements increase significantly in cold weather. Therefore, changes in temperature may require you to modify their diet also.
- Jerseys transition slower
Wean Jerseys slowly to encourage them to eat more calf starter. Cut milk volume in half and reduce it slowly from there.
It’s also important to ensure Jerseys have adequate vaccination coverage during stressful times. Producers should work with their calf raiser and veterinarian to agree on a vaccination program that covers each animal from the day she is born until she makes it to the fresh pen.
Also, consider choosing which heifers you want to raise and which ones you may want to sell by genomic testing with CLARIFIDE®. This test helps identify which heifers have the greatest genetic potential, allowing you to make better heifer culling decisions while they’re young.
- Jerseys can be bred to freshen earlier in life
Jerseys mature and reach puberty sooner than Holsteins. With an adequate nutrition program, Jerseys should be reaching maturity by 10 to 11 months of age. Consider administering a dose of prostaglandin, such as LUTALYSE® Injection (dinoprost injection) or LUTALYSE® HighCon Injection (dinoprost tromethamine injection), on the day of movement into a breeding pen. Manage feed intakes so their body condition score at breeding is approximately 2.5 to 3.0.
- Jerseys need more calcium at calving
Milk fever, hypocalcemia and subclinical hypocalcemia, can be a common challenge for Jersey heifers if they’re not managed carefully. They need to be on a pre-fresh diet for at least 14 to 21 days. Manage minerals in the pre-fresh diet. Add anionic salts to heifer diets. After they have been on the diet for one week, monitor their urine pH levels.
Jerseys are a unique breed to work with. If you focus on feeding and developing them right into healthy animals during the first 60 days, you’ll set a foundation of lifetime potential for them. Work with your Zoetis representative and veterinarian to develop a successful program for Jerseys.
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IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR LUTALYSE/LUTALYSE HIGHCON: Women of childbearing age and persons with respiratory problems should exercise extreme caution when handling LUTALYSE/LUTALYSE HighCon. LUTALYSE/LUTALYSE HighCon is readily absorbed through the skin and may cause abortion and/or bronchiospasms, therefore spillage on the skin should be washed off immediately with soap and water. Aseptic technique should be used to reduce the possibility of post-injection clostridial infections. Do not administer LUTALYSE/LUTALYSE HighCon in pregnant cattle unless cessation of pregnancy is desired. See full Prescribing Information for LUTALYSE. See full Prescribing Information for LUTALYSE HighCon.