If you are concerned about calf health, you can now ask your vet for the MSD Animal Health checklist tool which provides a detailed, score-based appraisal of your youngstock rearing system.
The comprehensive and interactive checklist – developed in conjunction with vets and nutritionists experienced in investigating youngstock management problems – will help you draw up a workable action plan to improve calf health.
This new checklist-based tool explores, records and scores calf health performance across five core areas to identify the strengths and weaknesses of any rearing unit’s environment and processes.
Working through a series of 10 questions within each core area – designed to determine where a rearing unit is in terms of accepted best management practice – allows vet and farmer to quickly pinpoint any areas needing attention.
Repeating the checklist every six or 12 months is a great way to keep things on track, allowing both parties to monitor progress against agreed targets.
1. SET GOALS AND MEASURE
Work with your vet to set targets:
- Measure progress towards your goals
- Review your goals every 6-12 months
2. GOOD COLOSTRUM
- Good colostrum is crucial for protecting calves against disease
- Follow the 5Qs: Quantity, Quality, Quickly, sQueaky Clean and Quantify
- Give a first feed of four litres or 10% of bodyweight within four hours of birth; this should then be followed up by a further two litres within 12 hours of birth
3. GOOD NUTRITION
- Ask your nutritionist to set up a calf feeding plan to achieve target growth rates
- Water should always be available alongside the normal milk feed
- Make sure you feed enough for the growth rate you want
4. LOW INFECTION PRESSURE
- Talk to your vet about vaccination to minimise the impact of calf diseases
- Vaccinate with the right product, at the right time, to the right animals and in the right place. Always use the right equipment
5. HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
- Group calves according to age with no more than 6-8 sharing a pen
- Ensure bedding is clean, dry and plentiful
- Ensure calf buildings are well ventilated