Calf risk assessment checklist

How good is a calf program? Four management areas that affect success in calf rearing are; calving area sanitation, colostrum management, housing environment, and nutrition. Specific risk factors in each area are outlined.

1) Calving Area

Cleanliness of the calving area

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(clean, dry, well-bedded, bedding changed regularly)

Frequency of calving area observation

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(heifers and cows are monitored, dystocia cases are assisted)

Post delivery procedures

Prompt removal of calf from contaminated surroundings

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(calving pen, dirty dam, adult cow manure, and air-borne pathogens)

Navel dipped with 7% tincture of iodine

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(timing, tincture used, redipping as needed)

2) Colostrum management

Colostrum feeding schedule delivers 150g IgG within 12 hours

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(1st feeding ASAP, quantity is related to quality & timing)

Colostrum quality is monitored regularly

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(Colostrometer, 3-gallon rule, IgG estimates are recorded)

Colostrum bacteria content is monitored regularly

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(quantity & species of bacteria, coliform count < 5,000 cfu/ml)

As needed, only colostrum from disease-free cows is fed

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(Johne’s, BVD, salmonella)

As needed, colostrum is chilled and stored properly to preserve quality

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(clean, chilled, bacteria count monitored regularly)

Colostrum is warmed correctly and fed at calf’s body temperature

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(thawing frozen, warming, feeding temperature monitored)

Immunoglobulin (IgG) absorption is monitored regularly

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(written records kept on BSTP values of sampled calves)

Colostral supplements are used properly

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(manufacturer’s mixing instructions followed, given ASAP after birth)

3) Housing environment

Housing minimizes spread of pathogens from calf to calf

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(individual pens or hutches, minimal contact, or small pen size)

Housing minimizes exposure to moisture and manure to keep calves hair coat clean and dry

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(dry bedding, enough bedding, clean bedding, minimizes MUD exposure)

Housing minimizes exposure to airborne pathogens

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(low ammonia levels, minimal exposure to adult cow air)

Housing is free of drafts

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(calves are not hunched up, hair coat on end, shivering)

Housing minimizes passing pathogens from one generation to the next

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(at least one week between calves, cleaned with 160 plus water)

Good biosecurity practices are followed consistently

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(clean clothes, boots, hands; sick calves separated, sick calves cared for last, gloves for sick calves)

4) Nutrition

Free choice clean water is provided for all calves all the time

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

Feeding program provides adequate energy levels

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(energy adjusted to deal with stresses of heat, cold, changing weather, sickness, and for developmental needs)

As needed, waste milk feeding practices minimize bacterial exposure

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(monitor bacteria levels)

Equipment cleaning procedures minimize bacterial exposure

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(feeding equip. scrubbed and allowed to dry between every feeding)

Milk or milk replacer is prepared consistently every feeding

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

(consistent feeding temperature, consistent dry matter content)

Calves are fed at the same time each day, youngest to oldest

Excellent      1     2     3      4     5     Poor

Thanks to K. Schoonmaker, “Uncover calf health problems” Dairy Herd Management

Author

Sam Leadley

Sam Leadley
62 articles

Consultant on Calf/Heifer Management at Attica Veterinary Associates.

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Attica Veterinary Associates

Attica Veterinary Associates

Attica Veterinary Associates provide veterinary services and products, independent consultation in dairy management, nutrition and performance, and trainings.

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