Fine-tune your calf barn cleaning procedures

What sets farms with great calf health apart from those that struggle to get calves started? Sanitation. It is a bigger investment of time than money and is certainly near the top of the list of important criteria for getting calves off to a good start. The fewer disease-causing organisms the calf is exposed to, the lower the risk she will get sick. Manure is the enemy; scours organisms spread by manure of an infected calf getting in the mouth of a healthy calf. The more exposure, the more likely the calf will get sick. Exposure starts in the calving area with manure from adult cows getting in the calf’s mouth, or from it touching the walls, bedding, the cow’s flank – and even from the calf licking itself. Hands are another common source of infection. Make sure employees caring for newborns have disposable gloves to put on when handling the calf. The hands that helped move the cow into the calving pen probably carry manure from the hair coat of the cow. Using those same hands to get the nipple in the calf’s mouth is an easy way for bacteria to spread. Make sure gloves are readily available in the maternity area and employees use them when handling the newborn calf. In addition to exposure in the calving environment, sometimes there is a piece of equipment not getting cleaned thoroughly and transferring bacteria to calves. It may be the colostrum collection bucket, the bottle or nipple colostrum is fed with, the walls of the newborn calf pen, the warming box floor, etc. The feeding equipment used every day...