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Start that calf off on the right foot!

Whenever possible, buy bottle-calves directly from the source. Sale barn bottle-calves have an average death rate of 50 percent.

The calf should drink only colostrum for the first three days. If you do not have a source of colostrum from hyper-vaccinated cows, you will need to use several of the commercial colostrum products available from your vet or local co-op. By using multiple products, you will have a better chance of getting antibodies covering most of the diseases that calves are susceptible to.

You may also want to use an injectable antibody product called "Quatrocon-2X" for subcutaneous (under the skin) injection for more disease protection.

Probiotic products such as Probiocin and Diamond-V Yeast (both sources of beneficial gastrointestinal micro-organisms, for example lactobacillus), should be mixed into the feed every day to help prevent the overgrowth of disease-causing bacteria.

If you are having a lot of deaths, you should consider using a medicated milk replacer once the three-day colostrum feedings are finished. (I have a closed-herd situation, so I usually don't recommend medicated feed, but you are bringing in new disease organisms every time you bring in a new calf.)

Whenever possible, use an all-in/all-out calf program. Get all your calves from the same source, bottle them for two months, wean them, clean up your facilities, rest the facilities for at least a month, then repeat the cycle. This will minimize the possibilities of disease disasters.

Your calf facilities should be sanitizable; common chemicals are chlorine bleach for concrete/wood and lime for grass areas.

Thorough cleaning of the bottles, pails, feed troughs, etc., is extremely necessary.

Calves should have water and very good hay available at all times. By the time they are two months old, they should be eating Calf-Manna or a similar product after every bottle.

Small, frequent feedings are better than large, twice-a-day feedings. Always try to imitate Mother Nature!

Keep the manure picked up so they don't get it into their mouths and start a gastrointestinal upset.

This isn't complete - nothing ever is - but it will get you started. Find a vet who is willing to work with you.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Lundgren, Elizabeth
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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