Optimum calf rearing
By Siobhan Regan – Veterinary Technical Advisor at AHV UK & Ireland
Rearing a calf optimally provides job satisfaction and it gives the best possible start in its development to become a healthy and strong dairy cow. Many calves face digestive or respiratory challenges. This is not only an extra cost item, it means frustration in work and loss of production as a dairy cow.
The immune system
Calves are not born with a fully developed immune system. In the first days of the calf’s life, the immune system is still in the passive phase and its own immune system is not yet working properly. This system gradually develops into an active system through the intake of colostrum. During the transition from passive to active, it is essential to support the immune system in order to prevent challenges.
At the age of about 3 months, weaning also poses a challenge to the immune system. Conditions where stress can be expected influence the immune system even more, and respiratory challenges then lie in wait. Stress can be expected due to moving, dehorning and poor quality feed should be avoided during these immune challenges. Other things that can play a negative role are hygiene due to insufficient vacancy in the single pens and non-optimal colostrum quality and/or colostrum dosage.
Bridging the immunity gap
Both immune challenges not only cause calves to be challenged earlier, but they also cost growth. Growth that is difficult to catch up with. AHV Veterinary Technical Advisor Siobhan Regan explains: “Immediately after birth, colostrum must be provided; the calf’s intestine is permeable to the antibodies contained in the colostrum for a limited time. The rule for colostrum is: a lot, quickly and often. From day 0, it is important to support the calf with AHV Calf Start through the (colostrum) milk. This will promote better growth and digestion, allowing the calf to better bridge the immunity gap.”
When calves are weaned, it is important that they already consume sufficient concentrate. Despite sufficient intake, weaning can still be a stressful situation. Weaning often goes hand in hand with moving to a different pen, which also causes additional stressful conditions. When potentially stressful situations are limited as much as possible, the feed intake and energy balance improve. An optimum energy balance also ensures that the immune system functions properly. AHV Booster Powder provides an energy boost and optimises the health of the calf during weaning.
Housing and draughts
Like people, animals are sensitive to draughts. In stables, the climate may seem good, but the signals are sometimes subtle. Siobhan Regan says: “I often see livestock farmers put calves behind a bundle of straw so they stay out of the draft. You don’t notice the draught at first, but it’s there, because the calves are always looking for a sheltered spot.
Despite good care and housing, calves can still encounter respiratory challenges. AHV Respi and AHV Aspi are products for healthy airways that regulate the body’s response and brings relieve and comfort. In case of extreme challenges, it is wise to give the calf the AHV Calf Tablet. This has a soothing effect on the airways, promotes good intestinal flora and stimulates intestinal function.
Building up natural resistance
The AHV Calf Rearing Protocol supports young stock in all facets of optimal rearing and building up their natural resistance. This results in optimally productive cows, a longer life span, cost savings due to such factors as a higher milk production yield and fewer financial losses, improved welfare for young livestock and greater ease and pleasure of working for the dairy or veal farmer.
Would you like to know more about this topic and how AHV can support you and your herd? Please fill in the form below or contact your local farm advisor directly.
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Would you like to be visited by an advisor to discuss the health challenges on your farm together? Our AHV Specialist will be happy to visit you to jointly assess the health of your cows and come up with appropriate cow-specific advice.
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