DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MARCH 2014
24 // ANIMAL HEALTH
Calf separation good for future production SEPARATING CALVES and making
sure they are comfortable will result in better producers and less deaths, a calf rearing expo at the Terang Co-op has been told.
Scott Newcomen, CRT sales manager general products, Bernd Kleiner, Terang Co-op rural store manager, Trevor Dowd and Brendan Johnson, DASCO national calf rearing manager.
International technical sales manager for Calf-Tel, Bernd Kleiner, told the expo that a calf death rate of 15% in the first eight weeks could be reduced to 5% or less if calves
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were kept separate. “If you have one sick calf, you don’t want a whole row of sick calves,” he said. The expo on good calf housing practices last month in the Co-op CRT Rural Store was hosted by the Terang Co-op and Dasco and attracted about 70 local farmers. The expo covered indoor versus outdoor calf rearing, housing options and calf raising fundamentals. Mr Kleiner said farmers need to make sure calves are comfortable to promote faster weight growth and better health. “They need their energy for growth, not fighting environmental stresses,” he said. “They need easy access to feed and water and an ability to find their own microclimate, which is difficult to find in a group in a building.” Calves can thrive in hot or cold climates if they are housed properly. Mr Kleiner said CalfTel thermo-formed hutches were successful in climates as diverse as Wisconsin’s snowy fields and Dubai’s heat. “The genetics of cows is very close across the world; it is farmers who are different in how they do things,” he added. “An individual hutch will allow each calf to seek its ideal microenvironment, either protected in the hutch or in sunny spot in the pen.” Mr Kleiner described separating calves as one of the most important factors in preventing illness, reducing death rates and promoting good health. “It is best to avoid calf-to-calf contact as it spreads disease,” he said. “Calves are born with an immature immune system and must be separated to prevent sickness. You should do everything possible to have a perfect situation
in the first 10 weeks.” Maintaining a healthy bio-security surrounding will lessen the risk of illness. Ventilation is also important. “Mother nature will do it for us outdoors but in a shed you need wide openings and in a hutch you need adjustable rear venting and ridge top venting to provide air flow.” Hutches should be separated a sufficient distance apart, include a protected area for feed and farmers should aim for a calf rearing process that is easy, affordable and profitable. “We calculate that with the number of calves not lost by using Calf-Tel hutches, you could pay back the product cost within a year or two,” Mr Kleiner said. Hutches should be durable and opaque to prevent the penetration of UV rays and avoid a ‘greenhouse effect’. Mr Kleiner said there were pros and cons for either indoor or outdoor calf-raising. “Indoors is more accessible, avoids harsh weather and improves observation and worker conditions, but there is greater cost in the building and ventilation and greater biosecurity risk from airborne pathogens when calves are together,” he said. “Outdoors is a healthier environment, has a lower level of pathogens, is more comfortable for calves and gives them room to exercise more and develop their leg strength, but they are also more exposed to the elements.” The expo was one of several held across south-west Victoria in late February. The hutches and other Dasco products are available from the Terang Co-op CRT Rural Store.