Details turn healthy calves to productive herd members
by James Umphrey, MS - Eastern US Udder care & Sanitation Manager for ABS Global
In today’s profit-driven world of dairying, it is important to review all areas and find the opportunities in our operation. Where can we improve and solidify our processes that lead to a successful outcome? In the last few years, we have made unimagined advances in genetics through genomics and sexed semen, getting the best replacement heifers out of our best cows at a higher rate than ever before. High-end heifers are as valuable today as ever, but what about the offspring from the lower end of the herd? Those offspring can create opportunities to bring more value through either the use of sexed high genetic merit semen or beef semen. Either way, producers are looking at the options and making decisions right for them and their operations, then dialing in on the details critical to assuring every calf makes it to become an income stream and not a drag on the bottom line. Every calf needs to do more than survive. They must thrive.
The keys to raising healthy calves are many and complex. One key area is hygiene. To understand hygiene, we need to talk in a similar language. Often these words are used synonymously but truly mean different things:
Numerous microorganisms concern calf raisers. There are also several articles available to review each of these pathogens, their mode of action, and causes of death in calves. A short review of each is below and at what age calves are typically infected.
Hygiene Program for Calf Housing and Equipment
There are two major areas of concern; the pieces that you use to feed calves (buckets, bottles, nipples and mixing utensils) and the housing units. Both are key to keeping calves healthy.
The debate over whether to pressure wash or not is real and is a decision to be made based on your farm factors. My opinion is, if you can isolate the hutches or pen dividers to be pressure washed away from housing units with calves in them, there is little chance of cross-contamination. In general, pressure washing is a great idea and helps ensure that calf housing units are cleaned thoroughly. However, pressure washing can be a point source of bacterial spread to calves when completed within close proximity.
The proper process to sanitize a calf area:
Calf-Tel.com has a good SOP for the process and you can find it here:
Steps to the Goal (process)
Not all Chlorine Dioxide/Acidified Sodium Chlorites (ClO2/ASC) are the same. It is important to test your germicide regularly with an approved method for the specific product you are using. Understand the chemistry of the product you are using and that there is a verification process to ensure you have the germicidal killing power needed to achieve your calf hygiene goals. Application of ClO2/ASC can be through a drench, spraying or, in some cases, even foamed on calf contact surfaces. Some products on the market do have the ability to foam. Foaming can allow better coverage and will stay wet/active longer, increasing the effective kill of organisms.
Hygiene plays a big part in helping you maintain healthy calves and a healthy bottom line. Dairy operations often have a significant investment in genetics to get a live, healthy calf on the ground. Dialing in the details of the farm hygiene program is one important piece in the puzzle leading to that calf adding to the farm’s income statement.
Click here for our PDF version: https://calf-tel.box.com/s/ii38x6eofo17r05is58koxl...
Read this in SPANISH courtesy of our dealer - CRI REPRODUCCIÓN ANIMAL MÉXICO SA DE CV. Please follow the link and download the article - https://calf-tel.box.com/s/6lhd3mb5s6x74knit4gu3do...
James Umphrey is currently a Milk Quality Specialist and EUS Udder Care Account Manager for ABS Global Inc. He has worked in the Dairy industry for more than 35 years. Prior to ABS, James was on Faculty at the University of Florida for 18 years. He is a graduate of Auburn University receiving a B.S. in Animal Sciences and M.S. in Nutrition. At ABS he has focused on helping dairymen achieve their goals in all aspects of production and milk quality throughout the Eastern US. Please feel free to contact James at james.umphrey@genusPLC.com.
Dairy Herd Management. (2012, February). Clean calf feeding equipment in six easy steps. Retrieved from https://www.dairyherd.com/article/clean-calf-feedi...