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Back-to-Basics Calf Care

March 1, 2013

Source: Purina Animal Nutrition LLC

When calves get sick, producers tend to focus on the technical issues, but often times, it can be everyday details that lead to calf health challenges.

Bethany Fisher and Christie Underwood, calf and heifer specialists with Purina Animal Nutrition LLC share insights on areas that can be overlooked.

Dip navels immediately after birth

Navel dipping equipment should be sanitized on a regular basis, as dipping a navel with dirty disinfectant defeats the purpose all together. If present in high quantities, organic matter can overcome the disinfectant.

Fisher advises calf managers to evaluate their navel dipping practices with these questions:

• How often is the disinfectant changed out?

• Are navel dippers being regularly cleaned?

• If navels are being clipped, are the scissors being sanitized between uses? Sanitizing with Nolvasan® is recommended.

"The navel acts as a highway to the bloodstream," says Fisher.

Clean and sanitize colostrum feeding equipment

Colostrum management is one of the most important areas of focus when it comes to cleanliness. "If basic sanitation efforts are not adhered to, un-sanitized esophageal feeders, bottles and nipples can serve as direct pathways for undesirable bacteria into the calf," Underwood says.

Any crack, crease, or crevice can harbor harmful bacteria despite even the most thorough of cleaning practices. Underwood suggests calf managers evaluate the cleanliness of calf feeding equipment with these basic questions:

• Is feeding equipment cleaned according to protocol?

• Is feeding equipment allowed to completely dry between uses?

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