Ark Veterinary Centre

The four things all calf rearers should get obsessed with

Nov 3, 2019

1) Hygiene 2) Colostrum 3) Recording and Monitoring 4) Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene.........

1). Hygiene  This is where, if you have it, OCD comes in handy! The cleanliness of everything is    important; from equipment and housing right down to your wellies and your        leggings. We are looking after babies so it is important to incorporate hygiene into your daily routine and have effective ways of checking that it gets done. 

2). Colostrum  You will have heard it a thousand times and I will repeat it a thousand more, colostrum is king. This stuff really is liquid gold! Stick to remembering the four Qs.  QUANTITY– 4L (or 10% of birthweight) within the first 6 hours as a rule of thumb. QUALITY– Use a BRIX refractometer to measure quality.    Discard poor colostrum. If you have excess good colostrum (>22%), label it and store in a spotless container in the fridge. Refrigerate for no more than 2 days and freeze for no more than 12 months. *If you are using a colostrometer to measure          colostrum quality then ensure you test the colostrum at room temperature.  QUICKLY– After 6 hours of life the ‘holes’ in the calf's’         intestines start to close, preventing the passive transfer of   immunoglobulins. Therefore, feeding colostrum after this time has very little benefit on antibody transfer.  QUANTIFY– The only way to check all of the above is working is by taking bloods from calves 24hours-7days old and       measuring either their total proteins or ZST.
3). Recording and monitoring data If you don’t record it, then how do you know what is and isn’t working? You could be missing out on big economic gains by not recording calf data. Essential records include:   Cow ID number and colostrum quality  Calf birthdate, birth weight and ID number  Calf total protein value  Weaning weights (birth and weaning weights will allow you to calculate a daily live weight gain).   Health data. Record cases and treatments of pneumonia, scour and navel ill etc…
4). Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene, hygiene, hygiene…..

Calf pneumonia season is upon us, are you prepared? A thermometer is a basic and essential piece of kit that anyone rearing calves needs. You can purchase a digiflash thermometer from the practice. The normal temperature of a healthy calf is 101.5-102F (38- 39C). 
Ensure you have a treatment protocols in place for any calves that take pneumonia. Speak to your vet to decide on the best treatments options available. 

As the ambient average temperature drops below 10C it is time to think about putting calf jackets on and either increasing the concentration or volume of milk fed to calves to maintain growth rates. If increasing the concentration of milk replacer ensure there is adequate water available to calves to prevent dehydration.