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World Dairy Expo Article

Identification of sick calves

By Noa Román-Muñiz, DVM, MS

Workers in charge of calf rearing have in their hands great responsibility. The future life and productive value of these animals depends greatly on the treatment they receive in the first months of life. Besides protecting calves against disease through adequate nutrition, good hygiene and vaccinations, it is necessary to identify sick animals early in the course of disease. This will allow us to medicate them appropriately in time to help them fight the disease.

•Be a good observer – You work with these animals on a daily basis. If you take time to observe how they are behaving, you will notice changes in physical appearance and attitude which, in many instances, mark the beginning of an illness.

•Write down your observations – It helps us recall details of the disease and assess the efficacy of the treatment, and others on the dairy can know what we observed and how we treated sick animals. It is a good idea to write down:

•Calf’s number (identification)
•Observed problems (signs) and date
•Diagnosis (cause of the signs)
•Daily observations (appetite, temperature, diarrhea)
•Treatments (medicine, quantity, frequency) and date
•Treatment’s efficacy (cured or worsening) EL

Things to observe, examples, and possible causes

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