There is a lot at stake in the first days of a calf’s development. Are you dedicated to ensuring high-quality colostrum is delivered to newborn calves immediately following birth?
Here’s one reason why you should be: Scours is the leading cause of calf death and sickness, responsible for 56.5% of mortality among pre-weaned dairy calves.1 With high-quality colostrum, you can help prevent your calves from being among that infected group. By giving your calves the highest-quality colostrum as close to birth as possible (the sooner the better, but no later than two hours after birth), you gain an advantage by providing protective antibodies that help reduce the risk they’ll contract scours.
Quality colostrum matters
To get this edge, your calves need the right amount of high-quality colostrum at the right time.
Here are a few tips I recommend for feeding colostrum — and maintaining its quality — at birth:
Vaccination during the dry period
Giving the vaccine ScourGuard® 4KC three to six weeks before calving aligns with the cow’s peak for colostrum production, which helps facilitate optimum antibody response. By increasing colostrum antibodies, you can help decrease the rate and severity of scours, decrease morbidity and mortality, and reduce rotavirus shedding. It’s doing right by your cows. In addition to enhancing animal welfare in general, it also can help reduce the use of, and need for, antibiotic treatment later.
Here are three scours prevention tips to help support calves during their first two months of life. Also, work with your veterinarian or Zoetis representative to find ways to help reduce the risk of scours for your calves specific to your dairy.
1 U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dairy 2014 Health and Management Practices on U.S. Dairy Operations, 2014. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/dairy/downloads/dairy14/Dairy14_dr_PartIII.pdf. Accessed November 25, 2019.
2 Moore M, Tyler JW, Chigerwe M, Dawes ME, Middleton JR. Effect of delayed colostrum collection on colostral IgG concentration in dairy cows. JAVMA. 2005;226(8):1375-1377.