Prevention of abomasal bloat
1. Evaluate colostrum program. Ensure that all calves receive one gallon of clean colostrum as soon after birth as possible. Prevention of any calf-hood disease starts with an effective colostrum program to ensure appropriate calf immunity. Ask your veterinarian to blood-test calves for total protein levels at 24 to 72 hours of birth to determine if calves are achieving adequate immunity.
2. Evaluate milk replacer mixing. This is probably the most important step in preventing abomasal bloat in calves. First, make sure that the water is the correct temperature according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically, milk replacer should be mixed at 105 to 110 degrees. Make sure that the correct amount of powder is being mixed with the water. It is a good idea to purchase a digital gram scale and weigh the powder to the correct amount according to the label. Finally, make sure that the milk replacer is mixed and agitated thoroughly and fed immediately to ensure the correct temperature when it reaches the calf. Your milk replacer program can be monitored by using a BRIX refractometer to estimate the total solids in your mixed milk replacer. A correct BRIX reading for milk replacer should be 10.5-11%.
3. Feeding pasteurized whole milk can decrease the risk of abomasal bloat. If you are adding powder, water or milk replacer to your whole milk, use a BRIX to estimate the total solids.
4. Ensure proper cleaning and sanitation of all milk feeding equipment. Milk feeding equipment should be rinsed with warm water (not hot), the scrubbed with hot soapy bleach water, the rinsed with an acid rinse and allowed to air dry.
5. Make sure all calves have free-choice water, especially after feeding their milk.
Work with your veterinarian to ensure that your calf-feeding team is taking all of the necessary management steps to prevent this disease on your farm.