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|0108 EL: Top six take-home tips for calf managers|
|El Lechero Dairy Basics - Calf and Heifer Raising|
There is no other segment of agribusiness enterprises that is so sophisticated, yet so simple as calf management. A A review of the scientific literature over the past 10 years yields literally hundreds of articles regarding management, colostrum, disease and feeding of the baby calf. Yet thousands of calves born every day go on to live healthy, productive lives on well managed dairy farms, veal operations and calf ranches. This paper attempts to put science into perspective by offering calf managers: “I can be a successful calf manager if...”1. “I can be a successful calf manager if I understand and implement practical methods to feed colostrum to newborns”.
The movement of antibodies from colostrum across the intestinal wall, into the blood stream, and back again into the intestines is depicted in Figure 1. Colostral antibodies are protein molecules that cross the intestines into the blood for only a few hours after birth. After approximately 6 hours the gut “shuts down” and antibodies no longer move into the blood. Those that remain in the intestines are digested as food and are probably not available to kill bacteria.
So you must devise a system (how to do work on your facility with your workers) that guarantees someone feeds 4 quarts (liters) of colostrum to all newborns within 6 hours after birth.
A. Collect all colostrum, put it into gallon containers and store it in a refrigerator.
B. Feed one gallon of the freshest colostrum with an esophageal feeder within 6 hours after the calf is born.
C. Write out, organize, train and monitor responsible persons to do this work day and night.
2. “I can be a successful calf manager when I know that I cannot use second milking colostrum as a substitute for colostrum when I don’t have enough colostrum to feed.”
A. Organize your colostrum delivery program (point 1 above) so that you always have sufficient colostrum available to feed newborns.
B. Have commercial colostral substitutes available to use in the event there is a deficit of natural colostrum.
C. Don’t routinely use colostral substitutes when natural colostrum is available.
3. “I can be a successful calf manager when I recognize that hygiene, next to colostrum feeding, is the second most important principle of calf management.”
A. Keep newborns clean, dry and comfortable.
B. Dip the navel of newborns immediately with a 7% iodine solution (closes the freeway bacteria use to gain entrance to the liver kidneys and intestines).
C. Maintain all milk feeding equipment clean and sanitary.
4. “I can be a successful calf manager if I understand how to use vaccines in my calf management program.”
Vaccinating baby calves that have had colostrum is best done at weeks or months after birth. As the calf ages, its immune system matures and it can produce more antibodies in response to vaccines. In colostral-deprived calves, vaccinate with appropriate vaccines at a very early age. In either case, use vaccines appropriate for the organisms prevalent in your enterprise; depend on veterinary advice to choose whether to use killed or modified live vaccines.
A. Vaccines are not a substitute for colostral antibodies; the calf’s immune system cannot respond quickly enough to afford the protection that colostrum provides.
B. The baby calf’s immune system can respond to vaccines given at an early age; select which vaccines and when they should be administered with the assistance of your veterinarian.
C. Colostrum-fed dairy calves are “different critters” than colostral-deprived calf ranch calves; vaccinate each differently.
5. “I can be a successful calf manager if, when treating diarrhea, I do not take calves off milk or milk replacer.”
A. Involve your veterinarian to design the appropriate treatment program for your scouring calves.
B. Continue to feed milk or milk replacer to calves that will drink during scours treatment.
C. Use an additional “feeding” of oral electrolytes in the middle of the day to scouring calves.
6. “I can be a successful calf manager if I recognize that calves grow best when fed milk or milk replacer and good quality grain mix until weaning.”
A. Provide water and grain free choice to baby calves all the time. Manage so that the youngest calves receive fresh grain daily; feed grain so that calves have access to it immediately when they finish consuming milk.
B. Wean calves when they consume greater than 2.5 lbs. of grain daily. EL
Dr. Tom Fuhrmann DVM