Disease causing bacteria, such as E.coli, can have very negative effects on calves, especially calves under five days of age. Land O’Lakes Purina Feed Calf and Heifer Specialist, Jason Leonard, offers the following tips to aid in reducing the exposure of newborn calves to E.coli and other bacteria:

  • Clean and disinfect calving pens in between every birth.
  • Maintain normal stocking density in calving pens even during high calving times (at least 144 sq. ft. /cow).  Overcrowding the calving pen will increase the amount of bacteria being shed from the cows to the calves as well as increase stress which can increase E.coli shedding by an estimated 10,000 times.  
  • Do not move the cow into the calving pen until she is starting the birthing process.  This decreases disease shedding time in the environment where the calf will be born.
  • Move the calf from the calving pen into a clean individual pen within 2 hours of birth.
  • Do not allow the calf to suckle its mother. Udders are often contaminated with bacteria that can harm the calf.
  • Dip the navel of the newborn calf immediately after birth, 7 percent tincture of iodine is recommended but a 50/50 blend of Nolvasan and 70 percent rubbing alcohol is a good alternative if the iodine is not available.