Combined with other measures aimed at ensuring good respiratory health, early protection, through vaccination, against the key viruses should be an integral part of good calf management.
Ensure adequate colostrum intake
New-born calves rely on antibodies from colostrum to help protect them. They should receive at least 10% of body weight in the first 12 hours, receiving at least half of this (3 litres of colostrum) ideally in the first 2 hours. Calves should be fed in a calm environment to reduce stress, so maximising absorption of the important antibodies. However, colostrum alone will not reliably protect respiratory health, even if from vaccinated cows.
Ensure housing is well ventilated, draught-free, and dry
Young calves need a draught-free environment with plenty of clean, dry bedding for nesting and keeping warm. The housing should be well ventilated to prevent viruses becoming ‘trapped’ in the stale air.
Manage group sizes
More animals means more infectious agents are breathed out, increasing the challenge level, and increased levels of moisture allow bacteria and viruses to survive for longer.
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