Monitoring calf care: Goals and thresholds & what to do when goals are not met

Goals and thresholds

1.Newborn care and feeding colostrum:

  • Quarterly – draw blood from all heifer calves between 2 and 7 days of age on herd check day.
  • Goal for blood serum total protein is 80 percent 5.0 and greater, 50 percent 5.5 and greater.
  • Quarterly – summarize the number of new navel infections requiring treatment.
  • Goal for navel infections is less than 10 percent.

2. Colostrum collection and storage:

  • Quarterly – collect “as-fed” sample of colostrum and culture for bacteria.
  • Goal is less than 5,000 cfu/ml of coliform or other enterotoxic bacteria.

3. Cleaning milk feeding equipment:

  • Quarterly – collect rinse samples from (a) nursing bottle and nipple, (b) esophageal tube feeder, and (c) buckets used to store colostrum and milk replacer mixing and feeding. Culture samples for bacteria.
  • Goal is less than 5,000 cfu/ml of coliform or other enterotoxic bacteria.
  • Quarterly – collect “as-fed” sample of milk replacer and culture for bacteria.
  • Goal is less than 5,000 cfu/ml of coliform or other enterotoxic bacteria.

4. Calf growth rates:

  • Within the first three days of life, using a heart girth weight tape, estimate birth weights on all even numbered calves.
  • Using the same tape, estimate weaning weights of all calves taped at birth.
  • Quarterly – summarize the amount of weight gained by these calves and estimate average daily gain.
  • Goal is at least 1.7 pounds average daily gain at 42 days.

What to do when goals are not met

1. Newborn care and feeding colostrum:

  • Review colostrum feeding – timing, quantity, and antibody content. Check for bacteria in colostrum, less than goal.
  • Check to see that tincture of iodine is being used for navel dipping and that all calves are dipped.

2. Colostrum collection and storage:

  • Check rinse sample results on colostrum storage equipment.
  • Review procedures for chilling fresh colostrum to 40°ASAP.

3. Cleaning milk feeding equipment:

  • Check compliance with washing procedure protocol.
  • Check for bacteria in milk replacer, less than goal.

4. Calf growth rates:

  • Review milk replacer mixing protocol.
  • Review milk replacer feeding protocol.
  • Review starter grain feeding protocol.
  • Review water feeding protocol
  • Review health records of calves gaining less than goal adg.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

University of Wisconsin-Madison