Ask the Expert: Dr. Neil Michael

Posted on November 2, 2012 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
Dr. Neil Michael comes to Starting Strong with nearly 30 years of experience as a veterinarian specializing in dairy. He currently works as the Director of Dairy Initiatives for Vita Plus.

Q1: Is the incidence of Cocci prominent in pre-weaned calves?  With all the NT changes in milk replacers, we could use help sorting out the best options for our calves.

Although the most common coccidial organisms (E. bovis and E. zurunii) are present in most environments where calves are raised, management practices are critical in determining the impact of coccidia on your operation. Infections are always a combination or interaction of the resistance of the animal (immunity) and the number of pathogens (bacteria or protozoa) present in the environment.

The most important steps in a coccidial control program are ensuring adequate intake of high quality colostrum at birth, providing a high level of nutritional intake and housing calves in a clean, dry, comfortable environment to avoid stressful situations. Another aid in the prevention of coccidia is the inclusion of coccidiostats in calf starters and milk replacers. Consult with your Vita Plus nutritionist and veterinarian to determine the best combination and feeding rates for your operation.

Q2: How important is it to power wash/disinfect calf hutches between calves?

Cleaning of calf hutches between calves is critical to a managing coccidial infection within a dairy operation. Because infective coccidial oocysts are shed in large numbers from affected calves (both clinical and subclinical) and remain infective in the environment for long periods, cleaning and sanitation of calf pens is fundamental to successfully managing coccidiosis. Suggested practices include:

  • Thorough power washing of hutches between calves will reduce the number of infective oocysts subsequent calves are exposed to. (Note: Never power wash hutches or pens near other calves since you may aerosolize infective agents – bacteria and protozoal – to other hutches and calves.)
  • Disinfectants with a phenol base are likely most effective against coccidia oocysts.
  • Complete drying of hutches after washing reduces bacterial and coccidia infective numbers.
  • Complete removal of bedding and replacement of bedding surfaces.
  • All in/all out management and exposing hutch and bedding surfaces to sunlight for one to two weeks.

Category: Animal health
Starting Strong - Calf Care