Calf Management Veterinary Services – Practice Builders
Dale A. Moore, DVM PhD, Director, Veterinary Medicine Extension, WSU
Total cost of heifer rearing = 18‐24% of dairy operation costs. Heifers do not begin to pay this back until somewhere into their second lactation. Cost breakdown for heifer rearing (in order from highest to lowest costs): feed, labor, initial value of the heifer, other variable costs, veterinary and medicine costs, death loss, interest on investment, and fixed costs.
If these are the operational costs – where can we have an influence?
Dystocia ‐‐ Incidence should be <15% in heifers and <8% in cows, dependent on bull choice, BCS of cow, position of the calf. Dystocia increases stillbirths, neonatal mortality, colostrum deprivation, interferes with IgG absorption, and increases chance for neonatal acidosis. Dystocia has been associated with calf mortality because of the possibility of uterine fluid inhalation.
- Prevention ‐‐ Calving schools/training
- Monitoring ‐‐ Stillbirths and calving assistance scores
Inadequate Transfer of Passive Immunity – Associated with morbidity and mortality.
- Prevention ‐‐ Colostrum management training
- Monitoring – IgGs or, TP’s & Colostrum culturing
Inadequate Nutrition – Associated with morbidity, mortality and poor growth
- Prevention ‐‐ Assessment of liquid feeding program, “ration” analysis & waste milk quality, pasteurizer HACCP program
- Monitoring ‐‐ Body condition and growth monitoring
Morbidity and Mortality – Numerous causes
- Assessing hutch calf health – Health assessment scoring systems
- Necropsy service for deads
- Animal welfare – Assessment of housing, Euthanasia training
- Treatment protocols
- Vaccination protocols
Resources for Calf Management Veterinary Services:
- Veterinary Clinics of North America: Food Animal Practice, Volume 24, Issue 1, Pages 1‐210 (March 2008) Dairy Heifer Management Edited by Sandra Godden DVM, DVSc, Sheila M. McGuirk DVM, PhD