Dairy Update: Calf Diseases and how to prevent them


With newborns arriving every day, we give some tips on diseases in calves and how to prevent them.

Dairy Update: Calf Diseases and how to prevent them

  • ADDED
  • 10 mths ago

With newborns arriving every day, we give some tips on diseases in calves and how to prevent them.

Its that time of year again, when calves are coming left, right and centre. But are your prepared for what diseases a calf may get? Don't worry, we have a guide below on some of the diseases you may encounter in your calves this calving season.

There are three diseases in particular which affect newborn calves. These are pneumonia, diarrhea and septicemia. Being able to detect the early signs, factors causing it and treating the illness are crucially important.

Septicemia
This is a systematic infection, where harmful bacteria and toxins get into the calves bloodstream. It then travels through the body. It usually occurs whilst the calf is still in the uterus or shortly after birth. It is an extremely difficult disease to treat, with survival rates low.

If your calf has septicemia, you will notice it having difficulty standing up, being extremely weak and depressed. It will also have difficulty suckling. Other symptoms which may develop are cloudy eyes, pneumonia, swollen joints, meningitis, tender navel, and diarrhea. Their temperatures will be normal, if not a small bit lower than normal.

Prevention is simple, it requires vigilance, especially when it comes to colostrum management. Calves are at increased risks to attacks from bacteria such as E. coli, which cause septicemia, when they are not getting adequate intakes of colostrum. Poor nutrition is a leading cause of septicemia, therefore, provide your calves with access to extra minerals and vitamins, whilst providing food with proper protein and energy levels.

Pneumonia
You all know the dangers of pneumonia to calves by now, but just in case, here is another guide for you.

In early signs of pneumonia, you will notice a cough in your calf, nasal discharge, and a body temperature in excess of 40 degrees Celsius. It will also be visibly having respiratory problems, while it will resist eating. Early identification of pneumonia, is vital in saving an animals life. Colostrum management, again, is important in preventing pneumonia. Ensuring your calves have adequate supplies of food and are ensuring they are intaking enough minerals and vitamins in their diet will go a long way to building up their immune systems.]

Housing is also extremely important and ensuring your calves are housed in a warm, dry, well-ventilated, clean, sheltered area, will ensure they have the best possible chance. Vaccination against pneumonia does help, though it does not ensure your calf won't be struck down by it.

Diarrhea
This is easily the most common cause of detahs in young calves, but it can be avoided quite easily with good management practices.

It is caused by bacterium such as E. coli, and occurs when the bacteria get into the bloodstream of the calf. This will cause the calf to become septic and could mean death soon after. There are a range of viruses and parasites which can also cause diarrhea.

Early identification again is key, should you notice a calf with diarrhea, it can easily be solved by giving it fluids. Diarrhea causes a major dehydration, therefore, replacing these fluids will help your calf fight the illness.

Signs of the disease include watery urea, rough hair, dry mucus, lack of appetite, lack of energy, unable to stand up, and even a loss of consciousness.

To Prevent, again make sure your calves are getting enough minerals and vitamins in their daily intake. This ensures their immune system is not weakened and might mean they are better able to fight the bacteria/virus or parasite. Good hygiene practices on your farm, will also go a long way to preventing diarrhea, pneumonia and septicemia. Housing your animals in clean, dry, warm areas will drastically improve yours and their chances of surviving.

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