Just like ourselves, calves are constantly surrounded by microorganisms. However, only a few of those microorganisms are truly pathogens and therefore capable of causing disease. I firmly believe that good hygiene makes all the difference at the farm. But how does it work?
Prevention is better than cure
In the broadest sense of the word, hygiene refers to preventive measures, on the one hand aimed at preventing diseases and on the other hand at maintaining animal welfare and fitness at the required level. These preventive measures are carried out on our farm, on the basis of protocols. A protocol-based approach means that everyone works in the same way, thereby reducing the risk of contamination to the minimum possible. After all, surely prevention is better than cure?
To keep pathogens away from the calves, we work to maintain the best possible level of hygiene. Within calf rearing, we have developed a number of different protocols for keeping the level of contamination as low as possible on the farm. Each calf has its own weaning bucket for the entire time it spends in the igloo. After the calf leaves the igloo, the weaning bucket is cleaned with water and disinfectant. The buckets are then left to drain for several days.
The farmyard is also forbidden territory for calf dealers. Calves we do not intend to keep are delivered to the calf dealer on collection day, via a separate igloo which is positioned close to the road.
But do you ever think about the following situation? You have entered the calf shed and step over the feed gate … you have just placed your boots on the feed that the calves are about to eat, manure and all, from your contaminated boots. On our farm, we try to make sure we never step over the gate at a point where there is feed on the floor. We have also created a space in each shed where boots can be cleaned, reducing the risk of cross-contamination.
They are just a few minor adjustments, but they can make a world of difference!