Health of calves at birth
Evaluation of the vitality of the newborn calf
The strength of the newborn calf can be measured immediately after birth by monitoring individual indicators such as; The response to exogenous stimuli, muscle tone, sucking reflex, time to raise the head and time to stand for the first time or a combination of indicators were evaluated in the calf strength score. It should be kept in mind that a calf should normally raise its head and move it back 3, 5, 20, 60 and 90 minutes after birth and try to stand up and stand up by itself.
In the first days of birth, colostrum should be fed to the calf, colostrum is the first milk secreted after birth. A newborn calf does not have the ability to suck the mother’s breast, so a container should be chosen for feeding colostrum and the colostrum should be poured into it.
Some ranchers have special buckets for feeding colostrum, which has a hole in the bottom of the bucket, and a narrow tube is inserted from there, and with this method, the part of the tube or hose can be easily placed in front of the calf’s mouth, and he can eat the colostrum by sucking. starts This method is not only for feeding colostrum, but it is also used in the first days of feeding newborn calves.
If the calf weighs 40kg, 4 kg of colostrum should be given three times a day, that is, 10% of the body weight should be given to the calf. Consuming colostrum because it contains organic compounds and nutrients increases the strength of the immune system in the calf. If the calf does not consume this amount of colostrum voluntarily, it must be forcefully fed through an esophageal tube.
Feeding time, colostrum quality and its volume are three key effective factors of colostrum management. It is possible that a large amount of a low-quality colostrum can provide immunity equal to a small amount of a high-quality colostrum. Colostrum can be stored for some time by refrigeration. It can also be stored for a while by fermenting colostrum without causing any loss in immunoglobulin activity. By freezing colostrum, it can be stored for more than six months. This colostrum can provide sufficient safety, provided that it is properly removed from the freezing state. Frozen colostrum should be liquefied with lukewarm water (not hot water) and it should reach body temperature before consumption. Do not use microwave to liquefy frozen colostrum.
Using serum refractometer is a cheap and simple way to control colostrum management. Calves that received sufficient immunoglobulin showed higher levels of blood protein than calves that received small amounts of colostrum or low-quality colostrum.
Several factors should be considered in calf feeding:
The type of product that is fed (milk or milk substitute).
1-Feeding frequency and feeding intervals.
2- The amount of milk per serving.
3- Milk temperature.
In order to choose any milk, health, practical and economic aspects should be considered. Most farmers give waste milk to calves. This milk is often the milk of newborn cows or the milk of cows undergoing treatment for mastitis. Milk from newborn cows is excellent for young calves. But mastitis milk may contain bacteria as well as antibiotics, both of which can have negative effects on the calf.
There is an opinion that mastitis bacteria remain in the mouth and saliva of calves that have been fed with this type of milk, and it is possible that if the calves lick each other, it enters their udder. Some of these bacteria are able to survive in the breast of a heifer for one to two years and infect her with some kind of breast infection during lactation. Keeping calves separately can prevent this problem. But regarding the feeding of antibiotic-containing milk, it is believed that such milk causes bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. It can also prevent the growth of beneficial bacteria in the calf’s digestive system.
The lack of uniformity affects the rumen:
A healthy calf is achieved by creating a stable rumen environment, and in that case, the calves will face less problems such as flatulence, Clostridium contamination, or diarrhea.
Uniformity includes uniformity in concentration, temperature and volume. The smallest variance in each of them can lead to problems in maintaining the health of calves, and these variances are observed during the same feeding period or between morning or night feeding meals.
Uniformity in milk replacer concentration means that changes in total milk solids between feedings are below 1%. The University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine recommends that cattlemen should aim for 13 to 15 percent solids after milk replacer mixing.
If you change the concentration of milk substitute, for example, you should know that in winter, increasing the concentration by 1% per day is appropriate. Feeding more than 16% solids can change the rumen environment and can be stressful for the calf.
The best way to mix the milk replacer solution evenly is to weigh the milk replacer powder and water each time it is mixed. Small cattle farms can use table scales to weigh water and milk substitute powder.
It is recommended that a Brix refractometer be used to measure solids continuously if it is not possible to weigh the milk replacer at each feeding in the dairy farm. Although the Brix index is a useful tool in dairy farming, it was developed for the feed industry and is not specifically designed for milk. However, Brix information can be used to determine proper calf growth based on a standard curve. The standard curve provides the rancher with an equation that can fit the Brix information and determine the appropriate concentration of milk replacer solution. The next step is to prepare a uniform milk substitute mixture.
To have a healthy calf, the temperature must be controlled:
Uniformity in temperature and volume must also be considered. A good way to measure temperature uniformity is to measure the temperature of the milk when it is fed to the first calf and when it is fed to the last calf.
In hot weather, calves tolerate a little more temperature variance. In summer, it is not a problem if the milk temperature reaches 37.22 degrees Celsius during lactation, but in cold weather the milk temperature should not fall below 38.6 degrees Celsius.
Needs of calves in winter:
The lower limit of temperature for young calves is 10 degrees, which means that at temperatures lower than this, energy maintenance needs increase in order to maintain body temperature. When temperatures drop in winter, the calf uses more energy for maintenance, which results in less energy available for growth and immune performance. Preparing and designing for cold weather is essential for calves to maintain their health and grow according to their genetic potential.
Feeding calves in the cold:
By adding fat, more energy is available to calves: adding fat to milk is a solution to provide an efficient and economical way to increase the energy available in milk without the need to change the type of milk powder. There are additives that contain fat and can be added to milk or milk powder in winter. Feeding milk powder with more fat increases the energy available to the calf for growth. But this alone does not significantly increase the available energy for growth, but feeding more milk powder per day in cold weather increases energy consumption, which provides more energy for growth and the immune system.
Providing calves with a quality starter is critical to performing better and staying healthy each season. Using starter in winter not only stimulates rumen growth, but also helps calves generate more body heat through increased energy consumption and increased metabolic activity.
Other factors affecting calf management in the cold season:
Body size and breed: Small calves and small breeds (such as Jerseys) have more maintenance requirements than larger breeds or calves. These small animals need more care and management during the cold months.
Body Cover: Calves can adapt to cold weather with a thick body cover, but they need more support to maintain their core body temperature. The body coat should be dry and free of snow, mud, and feces as soon as it is born. Use a calf jacket to help insulate young calves when their undercoat is dry and clean.
Place: Calves should be placed in a place free from dust and with proper ventilation. The bedding in winter should be deep and allow the calves to drown in it. Dry, clean, tall straw bedding is ideal in winter to help insulate calves.
Water: Distributing warm water to calves during the winter helps them digest feed and increase starter consumption. It is helpful to make a plan to distribute hot water to the calves immediately after milking while they are still standing.
Diarrhea and diarrhea treatment:
Diarrhea is one of the main health concerns of young calves. Diarrhea with loss of water and electrolytes and metabolic acidosis causes calf death. Like most diseases, prevention is easier and cheaper than treatment. Some measures to prevent infectious diarrhea are:
1-Good implementation of colostrum management
2-Separation of calves from the mother immediately after birth
3-Separate keeping of calves and bigger animals
4-disinfection of feeding equipment and storage place
5-disinfecting the boxes before placing the newborn calves in them
6-Feeding and taking care of sick calves
When preventive measures fail and infectious diarrhea occurs, specific diagnosis and treatment will be the key to success. Diagnosing the causative organism is necessary to choose a specific antibiotic for treatment.
Maybe the general idea is that milk is the cause and producer of diarrhea, while this is not the case, and refusing to give milk to the calf reduces the amount of feces on the ground, but this is not a reason for the calf’s recovery. Most farmers mistakenly believe that milk feeding should be temporarily stopped and electrolyte fluids should be fed to calves with diarrhea, this work is ineffective in the recovery process. In addition, continuing to feed milk along with liquids and electrolytes helps the calf to continue the proper growth process. In general, electrolyte fluids keep the calf alive by compensating the lost fluids and electrolytes and improve metabolic acidosis. Some guidelines for the treatment of infectious diarrhea and the use of electrolyte fluids are given below:
1- Using an animal diagnostic laboratory to correctly diagnose the cause of infection.
2- If the calves still want to eat milk, avoid eating electrolyte products containing sodium and potassium bicarbonate.
3- If the calves do not want to consume milk, electrolyte solutions containing sodium and potassium bicarbonate should be used.
4- Calves should be fed normal milk at the usual times and electrolyte solutions should be used about four hours after milking.
5- If the calves do not want to consume electrolytes, an esophageal tube should be used.
Feeding the starter concentrate and stopping the milk:
One of the preliminary goals in raising suckling calves should be to increase the desire to consume starter in the calf and to end milk feeding as soon as possible. Unless suitable waste milk is available, the weaning phase increases the daily cost (this depends on the price of forage and grain feeds). Most of this cost is related to milk or milk substitutes, but a significant amount of labor costs must also be included. Some management measures that help to increase the consumption of concentrate by the calf are:
1- Daily supply of fresh water during the breastfeeding phase
2- Supplying fresh starter concentrate from the third day of the calf’s life. At first, do not give more than one handful of concentrate to the calf because it cannot consume more than that during the day.
3-The starter concentrate should be prepared with high-quality ingredients.
Naturally, the calves will not consume a lot of concentrate in the first days, but the calves that have had this concentrate at their disposal since the first days will start consuming the concentrate faster than the calves that were deprived of it. The consumption of concentrate is important because its consumption is a measure of the readiness of the calf to stop milking. Calves that get their needs (protein, energy, minerals) with a significant consumption of concentrates do not need much milk consumption to reach an acceptable level of growth compared to those that consume four liters of milk or milk replacer. Consumption of at least 800 grams of starter in three days or more by the calf is a reason enough to stop milking. If the mentioned management is followed and provided that the calves are not retarded or weak due to diarrhea or other diseases, the calves can be weaned without any problem at five weeks of age. One way to prepare the calf to consume the starter is to reduce the two servings of milk to one each day during the last week before weaning, although the calves will remain hungry by doing so. But they quickly learn to satisfy their hunger by eating more starters. From this moment on, the consumption of starter by the calves increases rapidly, and this is a good start for the calf to enter the herd.
At one time, it was believed that calves need to consume fodder in order to develop fast rumen activity. But now we know that it is the nature of volatile fatty acids resulting from food fermentation that develops the activity of the rumen. A concern with all-grain diets before weaning is acidosis in calves.