If you are thinking about calf health and management on your farm, you can now ask your vet for the MSD Animal Health calf 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 and management 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 stands in relation to the accepted best management practice. It allows vets and farmers to quickly pinpoint any areas needing attention.
Repeating the checklist every 6-12 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 4 litres or 10% of bodyweight (whichever is greater) 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 be available at all times, as well as the normal milk feed
- Make sure you feed enough for the growth rate you want
4. LOW INFECTION PRESSURE
- Talk to your vet about a vaccination programme for pneumonia and scours 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 calves/animals sharing a pen
- Ensure bedding is clean, dry and plentiful
- Ensure calf housing is well ventilated