It sounds like a fairly simple objective, but as we all know it can much more difficult than it appears. Producing strong and healthy stock is not only an ongoing process, but one that requires detailed knowledge and care.
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The major causes of calf losses in the UK are neonatal scour and pneumonia. The impact of these on your calves can be minimized by adopting basic management protocols to both reduce exposure to the causative organisms and increase the calves immunity.
CALF SCOUR CAUSES
There are many different pathogens which can cause scour, the most common are listed below:
With so many possible causes it is important to test faecal samples enabling us to determine which organisms you are dealing with, allowing us to create a specific control strategy.
CALF SCOUR TREATMENT
Dependant on the severity of the scour treatment it maybe decided to include:
- Oral electrolytes (if calf is alert and able to suck)
- Antibiotic injection (after veterinary advice)
- Intravenous drips (if calf is unable to swallow/stand up)
- Isolate affected calves (to reduce spread of disease)
CALF SCOUR CONTROL
- Colostrum management (2-3L in first 6 hours)
- Hygiene (dip navel at birth, clean calving pens, feeding equipment etc.)
- Vaccination (vaccines exist for Rota/coronavirus, Ecoli and salmonella) (consult your vet)
KEY POINTS FOR CALF SCOUR
- Early detection
- Oral electrolytes
- Specific diagnosis
Respiratory disease is the most common cause of disease in weaned calves. There are many viruses and bacteria which can cause pneumonia including:
Respiratory disease can have a rapid onset and spreads very quickly, causing a variety of clinical signs, including:
- Dull, off feed
- Nasal discharge
- Coughing, mouth breathing
- High temperature (>102.5°F)
TREATMENT OF CALF PNEUMONIA
- Isolate sick animals
- Anti-inflammatory injection (reduces long term drug damage)
- Treat with broad spectrum antibiotic (after veterinary advice)
- Treatment of in-contact calves (to prevent spread)
CONTROL OF CALF PNEUMONIA
- Avoid overcrowding
- Adequate ventilation and air movement
- Avoid mixing of ages in one airspace
- Thorough cleansing of housing between batches
Vaccines are available to give added protection against the major causes of pneumonia (consult your vet for further advice).