Treatment of sick calves works best when disease is detected early. Generally, sick calves have not been feeling well for at least a day before you notice signs of illness, says Sheila McGuirk, veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Therefore, to get a leg up on calf health, McGuirk and colleagues have developed a calf-health-scoring protocol that looks at nasal discharge, cough and consistency of fecal material. Used twice weekly, it can help you find disease sooner. To download, go to www.vetmed.wisc.edu/dms/fapm/forms/8calf/calfscore.pdf