Calf nutrition
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Animal Nutrition

10 tips to prevent airway problems in calves

Alongside diarrhea, airway infections are the most common disorders affecting calves. And you all know what that means. Sick calves cost you money and valuable time. They also have disturbing consequences for your herd and as a result for your farm. Prevention is better than cure. Tips based on the experience of fellow dairy farmers across the Netherlands may therefore prove valuable.
We have selected the ten most commonly submitted tips and are happy to share them with you.

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Tips for accommodation

The accommodation of your young stock is of vital importance. There is plenty to take into account.

  • Make sure there is sufficient straw. Only use clean and dry straw. Muck out the straw compartments regularly. This avoids the straw overheating, which can result in major temperature fluctuations.Is your straw compartment large?
  • Make sure there is a sheltered area where young calves can lie. For example create a ‘ceiling’ by placing bales of straw on beams which are then installed on the dividing walls in the straw compartments. The result is a sort of ‘hut’ that will prevent your calves cooling down and drought and cold air descending from above.
  • Do not place calves with a large age difference together (a maximum age difference of two weeks). The natural resistance of young animals is still underdeveloped, so older animals can spread diseases.

 

Tips for preventing droughts

Droughts in the cattle shed are the biggest threat to the health of your calves.

  • Using windbreak mesh, create a large hut in the calf pens. The result is a sort of igloo that prevents droughts affecting the pen.
  • Prevent acute air displacement! Regularly test with smoke to determine the volume of air displacement. If there is too much air movement, install windbreak mesh.

 

Tips for feed

Good feed is a contributing factor to good disease resistance and hence healthy animals. We at Kalvolac know all about good feed.

  • Make sure the calf is fed at least three to four litres of good-quality colostrum within an hour following birth. Good colostrum contains at least 60 grams IgG per litre.
  • The rule of thumb for providing colostrum is: plenty, quickly, often and fresh.

 

Tips for temperature

Young life benefits from warmth. It is therefore of life-saving importance that young calves be kept at the right temperature.

  • Place a towel covered by a blanket on the back of a wet new-born calf. After an hour, the towel can easily be removed from under the blanket. The moisture will have drawn into the towel, and the calf will be dry, beneath a dry blanket. Keep the calf extra warm for the first two weeks in this way.
  • You can shave the back of older calves. This helps prevent sweating.
  • Avoid the temperature in the cattle shed falling too low; keep a close eye on your calves, and in case of doubt never think ‘I’ll wait and see’: immediately check the calf’s temperature and if necessary take measures.

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