5 Tips for Healthy Calves
Management of a calf at birth greatly affects lifetime performance. In addition to increased pre-weaning sickness and morbidity in calves that do not achieve adequate immune protection from their dams, calves can become immune compromised and experience poor results later in life.
“There’s a lot of research that shows when calves get sick with scours within the first two or three weeks after birth, it will greatly affect performance and morbidity levels,” says Dr. Lance Kurz of Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Nebraska. “When the weather changes, we’ll start seeing some pneumonia in these young calves. Calves that receive adequate immune protection are better able to fight off diseases, like pneumonia, and keep growing. It all ties back to what kind of colostrum and the amount of immune protection a calf received at birth.”
Kurz recommends these five key management practices to jump-start your calves this calving season.Date Published: September 8, 2014Date Updated: February 22, 2019
1) Provide good nutrition for the cow
Healthy calves start with properly conditioned cows that are fed a high nutrient diet.
Cows in proper condition will get off to a better start and will be better able to nourish their calves throughout the season.Date Published: September 8, 2014Date Updated: February 22, 2019
2) Booster colostrum
Protecting the calf’s immune system is of utmost importance. Many factors can impact colostrum quality and intake, so supplementing with a USDA-approved antibody product will ensure that your calves have the immediate protection they need.
When asked why Kurz recommends using USDA-approved antibody products with colostrum, he says, “These calves are worth a lot of money right now, and it’s an insurance policy to get your calves started right. Calving areas get used over and over, and pathogens build up in the calving pens. USDA-approved antibody products are a great way to give calves extra protection.”Date Published: September 8, 2014Date Updated: February 22, 2019
3) Calve in a clean area
During peak calving season, it’s not uncommon for multiple cows to be calving at once in the same area.
The last thing you want is for that newborn calf to fall face-first into an environment filled with bacteria and pathogens.
Keep the calving area as clean as possible to limit exposure to harmful pathogens.Date Published: September 8, 2014Date Updated: February 22, 2019
4) Ensure the calf receives colostrum and supplements right away
A calf’s ability to absorb antibodies starts to decrease almost immediately and is done by 24 hours old.
Provide your calves with colostrum and supplements as soon as possible after birth to provide immediate protection.Date Published: September 8, 2014Date Updated: February 22, 2019
5) Move from calving area
Calving areas, when not carefully managed, can be a hotbed of damp, unclean bedding. Move your calves to a clean, dry area with adequate protection from wind as soon as possible after birth.
All of these tips can help get your calves off to the right start, but Kurz says no management practice is as important as getting antibodies to calves immediately after birth.Date Published: September 8, 2014Date Updated: February 22, 2019
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