The 2 pillars for avoiding sick calves

Preventing calves from becoming sick is one of the many challenges faced by farmers during the busy spring period.

As part of CalfCare week, by Animal Health Ireland (AHI) and Teagasc, Dr. Catherine McAloon of University College Dublin (UCD) outlined how you can prevent calves from becoming sick using the two pillars.

Catherine stated: ”The leading causes of death in young calves in Ireland is scour and pneumonia.”

Also Read: Pneumonia in calves: What are the causes and how to prevent it

Pillar one

Catherine outlined: ”The focus of pillar one is reducing infection pressure placed on the calf. This starts with excellent standards of calf hygiene.

”This starts in the calving pen and is continued into the calf shed, while also including calf equipment [stomach tube] and feeding utensils [teat feeders].

Bedding in both the calf shed and calving shed is also very important. Young calves rely on bedding to keep them warm and dry, wet or damp bedding means calves will lose heat to the floor.

”Cleaning and disinfecting at the beginning and end of calving season is very important. But partially at the end of the season, ensure a disinfectant that kills cryptosporidiosis is used.

”The environment in which the calves live is also very important; calves should have adequate space, ventilation and drainage.”

Also Read: Reviewing the factors to consider in calf housing

Pillar two

Catherine stated:” Pillar two is maximising the calves immune system by feeding calves high-quality colostrum.”

Also Read: Colostrum: A calves most important feed

”Its not just about feeding enough colostrum in the correct amount of time, it is about testing colostrum quality, ensuring it is collected hygienically and stored properly.

All of these things will not only ensure that a calf receives enough colostrum, but also absorbs enough colostrum.

”The final point is around vaccination of cows, a vaccination protocol should be discussed with your vet.”

Also Read: Vaccinating against scour in suckler herds