Useful tools and tips for Calf Wellness
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Useful tools and tips for Calf Wellness

May 01, 2015
POSTED BY: Greg Edwards | DVM | Managing Veterinarian | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

Calf and heifer management is a huge investment in the future of your operation, and there’s only a small window of opportunity to get it right. Here are some recommended tools to help you regularly assess your Calf Wellness programs and help calves and heifers reach their full potential.

  • Calf & Heifer Assessment, a comprehensive checklist developed by Zoetis to help identify significant areas of improvement in your calf and heifer program: maternity pen management, pre-weaned calves, post-weaned heifers and heifer reproduction.
  • Health Scoring Criteria, developed by Dr. Sheila McGuirk and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, for identifying bovine respiratory disease symptoms. Be sure to take time every day to watch for symptoms and treat them before the disease progresses.
  • Esophageal feeder if a calf doesn’t drink enough colostrum through a bottle. Every calf should receive an adequate amount of quality colostrum (1 gallon for Holsteins and 3 quarts for smaller breeds) within one hour after birth. Feed the same amount of colostrum again eight to 12 hours later. Consult your veterinarian to learn how to properly use this tool.
  • Navel dip cup to dip calves’ navels with a strong tincture of iodine (at least 7%). Dipping a newborn calf’s navel helps protect the calf against disease during the first days of life. Each calf’s navel should be dipped a total of three times: Immediately after birth, when moved to an individual hutch or pen, and 12 to 18 hours after the move.
  • Calf weight tape and/or scale to monitor and track progress of calves. This will help you ensure your calves are meeting their growth targets.
  • Brix refractometer to measure colostrum quality and antibody concentration to help ensure proper passive transfer of immunoglobulin G (IgG).
  • Intranasal respiratory vaccine to help boost respiratory disease prevention efforts against bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus and parainfluenza 3 (PI3) virus from day one.

Heifer raising is often the second-most-expensive cost on a dairy, sometimes exceeding $2,000 per head.1 Work with your veterinarian to make the best use of these tools and make the most of your Calf Wellness investment.

1 Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Dairy Replacement Programs: Costs & Analysis 3rd Quarter 2012. Available at: http://dyson.cornell.edu/outreach/extensionpdf/2014/Cornell-Dyson-eb1402.pdf. Updated February 2014. Accessed April 3, 2015.

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