February, March, and April are heavy calving months, and management decisions during this period will have dramatic effects on the operation's productivity. Following are tips during this busy time of year.
Assemble supplies and equipment
- Warm water supply
- Plastic sleeves
- Obstetrical lube
- Halter, cow restraint mechanisms
- Obstetrical chains
- Fetal extractor
- Ear tags and applicator
- Tatoo set and ink
- Frozen colostrum
- Calf feeding bottle/esophageal feeder
- Iodine to treat navels
- Birthweight scales
- Sheltered area for pulling calves
- Clean bedding
- Comfortable maternity pens
- Sufficient lighting
- Facilities for warming chilled calves
- Electrolytes for dehydrated calves
Sometimes, no matter how many preventive measures you take, calf scours show up in the best-managed herds. "Still, you should be prepared for an outbreak every year, developing a program with your veterinarian focusing on detection, isolation, diagnosis and treatment."
- Pre-plan a course of action with your veterinarian and implement it immediately when the first case occurs.
- Isolate affected calves immediately and do not expose healthy calves since scours organisms are highly contagious and spread rapidly through contact and even inhalation.
- Identify the causative organism. Your veterinarian may recommend sampling the stool of a sick calf to culture and identify the causative organism.
- Prevent dehydration, since this is usually the most immediate concern with scours. Your veterinarian can outline a fluid therapy to be used.
All products and tools should be on hand well in advance of the calving season.
For related timely topics, link to UNL Beef Cattle Production.