SOLIDIFY YOUR CALVES HEALTH
ON SUMMER PASTURE By Bruce Derksen for American Cattlemen
o you’ve got your cows safely calved out making sure the little creatures they delivered received a bellyful of colostrum along with the proper level of TLC and are now looking forward to the summer season ahead. The calves are tagged and identified and are looking shiny and sleek. So how do you keep them that way through the long hot summer?
The easy and still most accurate answer that you hear over and over again is that prevention is the best way to deal with calf diseases and failing that, early detection and treatment is a must. It is far easier to send your calves off to pasture equipped with the necessary resources to fight against illness, than to take shortcuts and hope for the best. Once a calf becomes sick, it can be an uphill battle to get them back on the path to good health. The first consideration is to key in on exactly what you might face depending on variables such as whether you used this pasture in the past or have just acquired this grazing land. Have you done your homework and
re-visited earlier health challenges along with contacting previous owners about their experiences? Talk to your neighbors about their calf health issues and go over your own records to refresh your memory of past problems. Consult a veterinarian and get their opinion on typical health issues that can attack calves in your area and region. You only have one chance to get this right before you send your cow calf pairs down the road to summer pastures where you likely won’t have the control you enjoy on your farm. Together with your veterinarian, put together a vaccination program that can be administered before the calves
leave for the summer. There are basic health concerns and problems your calves will face including blackleg, foot rot, pink eye, bloat and pneumonias. Use a reasonably priced clostridial vaccination for blackleg strain diseases along with at minimum a version of a modified live or killed vaccine to help prevent viral infections. An intranasal spray to stimulate local immunity in the nasal passages is also an option. Remember some vaccines require a booster shot to be effective, so be realistic. Do you have the facilities and infrastructure to be able to round up your calf crop or is this challenge a non-starter? Without these booster doses a calf’s immune response will not be as aggressive, robust and long lasting. Will one dose be enough? If the pathogen in question is limited, maybe the answer is yes. Don’t forget to stock up on the treatment drugs you will need to fight pinkeye, foot rot, * Continued on page 20