Editor's note: The following exerpt was taken from Calf Note #174 by Dr. Jim Quigley, published on CalfNotes.com.
I recently received an e-mail from a veterinarian in an Asian country who just started working with a large commercial dairy. On this farm at the time of the e-mail, there were to be more than 500 calves born in the next three months, most of which were heifers (the farm uses sexed semen). The situation on the farm is dire – the vet suggested that “most” of the calves die within a month or so after birth.
Now, I don’t know what “most” means, but assume that it’s (1) more than half and (2) much too high. There are major problems, likely with a combination of feeding, management and pathogen issues. And, while it’s difficult / impossible to make specific recommendations on how to intervene on this specific farm without actually being there, I tried to make some general management recommendations that might help the vet take steps to stem the tide of mortality – i.e., helping him put out the fires. I thought it might be helpful to share those comments in the Calf Note.
There are hundreds of specifics that I could recommend; however, I felt it important to boil my recommendations down to five specific, achievable steps that would be helpful in improving calf health and reducing calf mortality.