Regional Calf Report: Ohio – Kayla Oxendale, Vita Plus

Posted on February 23, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Kayla Oxendale, Vita Plus dairy specialist
As we embark on 2017, we find our industry under new regulations that influence the decision-making and day-to-day operations on many farms.  The Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) requires additional traceability to use some common medications.

The calf and heifer feeding programs have seen the most change in our market. A VFD from a veterinarian is required in order to legally purchase and feed medications considered medically important to human medicine, such as neomycin sulfate/oxytetracycline, oxytetracycline and chlortetracycline. As a result, we have seen reduced use of these products and more focus put on key management areas.

Calving area
When a newborn calf hits the ground, we want it to be in a clean, dry, and safe area for both mom and baby.  As we know, calves are born with very little immunity in their gut, so the importance of minimized exposure to any harmful pathogens in the first few moments of life is huge. Deep-bedded straw, free of excessive manure and moisture, creates an ideal environment. The cleaner we make the calving environment, the better start we give the future herd.

Colostrum management
To help develop the calf’s immunity, deliver the highest quality colostrum possible. Two great tools to use to check colostrum quality are a refractometer or a colostrometer. If quality and quantity of colostrum is a problem on farm, keep a colostrum replacer on hand. To achieve maximum absorption in the small intestine, colostrum should be given within the first few hours of birth.

We’re seeing fewer producers using medicated milk replacer.  A new product contains prebiotics and probiotics to promote intestinal integrity and function.  Liberator can be used during high-stress periods, seasonal changes and while backgrounding calves.  Its ingredients have been thoroughly researched and shown to modify intestinal microflora, “prime” the immune system and inhibit several scour-causing pathogens.

Nothing can replace the benefits of great management.  The first few hours or your calf’s life sets the stage for the future of your herd!

Category: Colostrum management
Starting Strong - Calf Care