FARMING MATTERS: Ensuring the health of newborn calves

Picture copyright Agribusiness Communications Limited (ABC)
Picture copyright Agribusiness Communications Limited (ABC)

Livestock farmers are always looking for ways to ensure the health of their herd. A recent workshop focused on top tips for healthier calves, highlighting the significant impact scours and pneumonia have on calf rearing operations, and offering timely advice on how to make young stock more resilient to these costly diseases.

Farmers were advised to improve colostrum intake, prioritise hygiene and housing, invest in vaccination, practice antibiotic stewardship and work with their vet.

This was the message given to farmers attending a meeting of the National Youngstock Association’s Youngstock 4LIFE roadshow when it stopped in Daventry.

The series of autumn events has been organised by Westpoint Farm Vets and supported by MSD Animal Health.

Jessica Swiestowska of Westpoint Daventry told delegates that action to stop diseases gaining a foothold in the winter was absolutely vital.

Calves’ ability to absorb immunoglobulins from colostrum is greatest during the first six hours of life and inadequate colostrum intake makes them significantly more vulnerable to disease.

Ms Swiestowska advised: “Develop a protocol for colostrum intake and delivery, based on recommendations of feeding three litres of colostrum within the first two hours of life and repeat again, ideally before the calf is 12 hours old.”

Farmers were also advised to disinfect oral feeding equipment and calving tools inbetween uses and to keep humidity levels low and draughts out in housing with good ventilation and drainage systems. Young stock of different ages should not be kept in the same pens and sheds, since older calves can pass infections to younger calves through the same airspace.

It was also advised that producers should work with their vets to develop the optimum vaccination programme to suit their farm.

The image of the calves was provided by Agribusiness Communications Limited.