One of the best ways to make sure the calves are healthy is to reduce pathogen exposure. Even if the calves do not become ill, they will still exert valuable energy to fight off the disease.
Here are 4 important areas to consider:
1) Cleaning and sanitizing steps
Make sure your employees use 2 separate steps to clean and sanitize.
Items must first be cleaned of all organic matter before a cleaning solution can reach the bacteria and successfully sanitize the surface.
2) Review the equipment
Key items to review are the wagon or cart that transports calves from maternity pens to hutches, bottles, buckets and so on...
It is also important to make sure the tools are sanitized routinely.
3) Calf morbidity and mortality rates
If there are high mortality rates, it could mean that the cleaning protocols are not implemented correctly or the protocols are not effective.
Identify sources of contamination is crucial to stopping the diseases spread and to reduce mortality rates and morbidity rates.
Mortality rates should be less than 5%, whereas morbidity rates should be less than 25% under 60 days of age.
4) Consulting third party
Consult a dairy specialist to help review facilities and protocols can help to uncover problems that you may have overlooked.
Third party may have dealt with a similar problem on another farm and they have the required resources to help solve the problem.
Just by investing a little more time and resources to reduce pathogen exposure can help to raise healthier calves with improved performance. Improving the quality of a calf's environment will help to minimize pathogen exposure, leading to a healthier calf that will convert feed to weight more efficiently.