Page 14 - MWC 3-31-2022s
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The Midwest Cattleman · March 31, 2022 · P14

                                             By Connor Biehler and Hannah Greenwell, Nebraska Extension Educators
         A main economic driv-                                                                                   Three  ways to help pre-
      er of a cow-calf operation is                                                                           vent a scours outbreak in
      the number of calves weaned                                                                             your herd include:
      per cow exposed. Two subse-                                                                                -Providing a clean envi-
      quent drivers are weight and                                                                            ronment for baby calves.
      phenotype. For these rea-                                                                               Some practices that can help
      sons, outstanding calf health                                                                           provide a clean environment
      is a directly correlated vari-                                                                          include using the sandhills
      able to calf growth and per-                                                                            calving  method  (cows  that
      formance. This article will re-                                                                         have not yet calved are rotat-
      view management strategies                                                                              ed on pastures so newborn
      that have been shown to be  after calving.  After this ini- thal ailment in the first 30                calves enter a clean environ-
      helpful for improving new- tial  milking, the cow begins  days of a calf’s life. While cur-             ment), maintaining a clean
      born calf health.                  to transition to lower quality  rent practices have improved         calving environment, and
         Sound calf health man- and quantity of colostrum for  survival rate of calves, there                 sanitizing treatment equip-
      agement begins with the  the next 48-60 hours. Like- is still an economic and time                      ment between calf uses.
      dam, prior to calving. A ges- wise, after the first hour, the  saving benefit to taking pre-               -Ensuring the calf receives
      tating cow should be fed to  calf’s ability  to absorb im- ventative measures rather                    colostrum in a timely man-
      meet her requirements for  munoglobins across the gut  than treating once the calf                      ner. Failure to do so increases
      her own maintenance plus  wall begins to decrease. True  is sick. Scours are usual-                     risk of calf health problems.
      the additional nutrients for  colostrum contains two times  ly caused by two or more                       -Vaccinating cows in the
      fetal growth. If these re- as much dry matter and min- pathogens working together,                      last  trimester. Vaccinating
      quirements are not met, the  erals, and five times more  or increased pathogen load                     for E. coli and rotavirus can
      fetus will still properly grow;  protein than whole milk,  in confined settings. Severi-                potentially increase antibod-
      however, the cow sacrifices  while also containing various  ty and duration of scours is                ies that the dam will pass on
      her own reserves, lowering  hormones and growth factors  dependent on the extent of                     to her calf through colostrum.
      condition prior to lactation  required for growth and de- intestinal destruction, stress
      and re-breed. Cows in a body  velopment.                              level in the environment, and
      condition score of 5.5 – 6.0          Detecting abnormal signs  amount and quality of colos-
      (1-9 scale) have been shown  and behaviors that indi- trum from the dam.
      to deliver calves with higher  cate a calf is sick is critical,
      vigor, lowered incidences of  especially in the first two
      dystocia, and have a quick- months of a calf’s life.  The
      er return to estrus. Research  main  goal  concerning  calf
      suggest underfeeding cows/ health should be to detect
      heifers does not result in a  abnormal signs and behavior
      smaller calf, but consequent- between  a healthy  and sick
      ly reduces cow performance  calf.  The quicker behavior
      post-calving.                      signaling illness is detected,
         A key component to getting  and treatment administered,
      a calf off to the right start is  the greater the chances of re-
      to ensure they receive colos- covery are for the calf. In ad-
      trum within the first four  dition, this information can                          WE ARE ON
      hours post-calving. Colos- be used to develop calf man-
      trum is the primary source of  agement protocols and treat-
      nutrients and immunity for a  ment strategies for current
      newborn calf and is only ob- and future calf crops.
      tained from the first milking         Calf scours is the most le-                    THE WEB!


       Calf scours is the most lethal ailment in the first 30 days of a calf’s life.
       Photo credit Troy Walz
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