Limit stress to aid calf comfort and your profit
MINIMISE individual animal stress by ensuring that bull selection is prioritised to, as much as possible, reduce difficult calvings.
Calves frequently have a poor desire to suck after dystocia (laborious births) and are often slow to stand, meaning colostrum intake is reduced in the critical first 12-24 hours of life.
Ensure that the cow calves down in good condition so that colostrum quality and milk yield are maintained; dystocia is also a big risk in over-conditioned cows.
Ensure that the calving area is warm, draught-free, and well ventilated, and that calves and cows have shelter from inclement weather.
Also make sure that both cows and calves receive proper nutrition. This will be particularly important in the coming spring.
It must be remembered that calves must receive sufficient energy intake to maintain bodily functions, but also allow growth and weight gain. Bucket-fed dairy calves often receive between 10-20pc less energy intake than is required. In all age-groups, thin, under-conditioned animals suffer from immuno-suppression, increased disease incidence and mortality.
Spending extra money on feeding will benefit the farmer in the short and long-term by reducing disease and, therefore, increasing farm profitability.