MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR SUCKLER CALVES AT WEANING
To minimise stress for the suckler calf in autumn: • Concentrates should be introduced at least 4-6 weeks prior to weaning, and calves should be eating at least 1kg of concentrates per day at weaning. Concentrate supplementation should continue for at least 2 weeks after weaning. • Calves should be housed 3 weeks after weaning and ideally in good weather conditions. • If dehorning and castration have not been carried out at weaning stage it should be avoided for at least four weeks prior to or after weaning. • In larger herds calves should be weaned gradually by removing a small number of cows from the herd every five days. • Housing should be clean, dry and well ventilated with sufficient feed and water trough space. Poor ventilation and overcrowding are major risk factors for pneumonia once the calves are housed. • Clean, fresh water is essential to prevent dehydration which will increase the risk of pneumonia. • Minimise stressful handling around weaning. • Seek the advice of your vet about potential vaccination programmes for weanlings suitable to your farm. Management of calves with pneumonia Although difficult, early diagnosis is crucial to maximise the chance of success of treatment. Frequent monitoring is required post-weaning and post-housing to ensure cases are identified early if they occur. If treatment is started early there is a good chance that calves will recover completely. Early signs of disease are dullness, increased respiratory rate, discharge from eyes and nose and fever (over 39.5°C). If calves show pussy nasal discharge and severe respiratory distress the disease may well be advanced, and it is possible that the damage to the lungs cannot be reversed. Those calves, if they survive, will probably be stunted and may never perform to expectations. Treatment Preventing pneumonia by managing animals correctly is preferable to treating outbreaks. Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections. However, where bacterial involvement is suspected, antibiotic treatment is required. Anti- inflammatory drugs can also be useful. Veterinary advice should be sought for recommendations on treatment protocols. No matter which antibiotic is used, the most important factor for treatment success is to start treatment very early in the course of the disease and to treat long enough (at least for another two days after the signs of disease have disappeared). For further information please refer to the AHI Leaflet: 'Management of the suckler calf at weaning to prevent pneumonia' click here .
BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER | AUTUMN EDITION
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