New guidelines to ensure that colostrum counts this spring
Getting back into the swing of things after Christmas and New Year often takes a degree of motivation. However, there is nothing more motivating than a freshly born calf -- and for the spring-calving herds, this will soon be a reality.
By now, calving and calf-rearing facilities would have been cleaned, disinfected, repaired or constructed and awaiting new arrivals. Dry cows have been run through the crush on a number of occasions with vaccinations for IBR, salmonella and rotavirus/coronavirus commonplace. Final doses for adult fluke are also administered where necessary.
When we consider the prevention of diarrhoea and scouring in calves, good hygiene and vaccination where appropriate are invaluable methods to manage disease.
The new recommendations by Animal Health Ireland (AHI) to remove the calf from the cow immediately after birth to a clean individual calf pen or hutch to minimise the chance of infection may be an effective change for some.
However, one can't forget the value of colostrum and it's a good time to remind ourselves why it's so important to calf health.
When it comes to colostrum, two key factors need to be remembered:
1. Ruminants (calves, lambs and kids) are born without any antibodies, and rely on good quality colostrum for their early immunity against disease.
2. Calves have a brief but critical window to receive colostrum to give effective disease prevention.