Livestock farmers know that everything stands or falls with good preparation.
A preparation that starts long before the cow calves.
What is the health status on the farm, should the cows be vaccinated preventively or not?
Is the calving shed clean?
Is there more than enough colostrum in stock, (of known and good quality)?
All these (non-exhaustive) matters have a direct influence on calf vitality.
Once the calf is born, in addition to nutrition, attention is paid to good and suitable calf housing, clean, dry, draft-free with plenty of air, light and the possibility of mutual socialization.
All normal basic knowledge that every farmer knows of course.
Nutrition requires extra attention.
In addition to colostrum, it is important to make optimum use of the young growth in the calf.
Do this by means of a milk yield that is adjusted to the needs of the calf.
Well-growing calves are less vulnerable!
When it is cold, the calf needs more energy and protein to keep itself warm and still be able to grow.
The “internal furnace” has to burn more and therefore needs extra fuel.
I myself am in favor of a generous milk yield for the calves. I like to achieve maximum youth growth, it not only makes the calves stronger.
During the first 8 weeks of life after birth, the final udder quality is formed in the heifer calf.
Growth retardation in this period will always adversely affect the development of the udder tissue.
Calves show a higher daily growth with more and concentrated milk.
3x a day at least 2.5 to 3 liters of milk (depending on birth weight and age), containing 15% dry matter, and you will be positively surprised how well the calves are growing.
Know the cause of calf diarrhea and adjust prevention and treatment accordingly.
In case of calf diarrhea, it is (besides knowing the cause) important to prevent dehydration of the calf by providing electrolytes.
There is still much debate about whether or not milk feeding should be temporarily discontinued, and for how long should only be given electrolytes. Electrolytes contain too little energy to burn “the oven in the calf”.
In case of illness and / or in a cold environment, calves can suffer an energy shortage with all the consequences that entails.
Therefore, do not stop giving milk for too long. The best strategy for adding extra fluid to a calf with diarrhea is to provide and alternate milk and electrolytes in a timely manner, throughout the day.
Adding 150 to 200 ml of good quality colostrum to the milk gives the sick and weak calf extra strength.
That calf diarrhea always results from too much milk is a persistent rumor that has haunted us for many generations.
If you know the cause of diarrhea in calves, you can effectively combat it. A lot of milk per day does not stand in the way of this targeted control.
Diarrhea problems are always associated with dehydration in the calf. A calf with diarrhea can lose up to 8 liters of fluid per day. The affected calves try to limit their water loss through reduced urine excretion, but the actual water loss is caused by diarrhea. During diarrhea, the total amount of manure produced increases by about a factor of 40 compared to normal manure production. In addition to the loss of moisture, important minerals such as potassium, sodium and chlorine and nutrients such as glucose, vitamins and fatty acids are also lost.
The result: a sick, weak calf with malnutrition and an unbalanced electrolyte balance.
Administering milk and electrolytes at body temperature helps prevent further cooling of the calf.
As a result, the calf has to use less or no extra energy to "heat up" the cold liquid itself.
Sounds logical and simple, and it is.
In addition to a draft-free environment, the calf can be kept warm by thick bedding, a calf blanket or by temporarily using a heat source.
WHEN USING A HEAT SOURCE, BE CAREFUL TO AVOID THE RISK OF FIRE!