Winter Calves: Improving Survival Rates

Tips from the Valley Vet Supply Technical Service Veterinarian Team

Winter Calves

Cold weather is stressful for calves and makes them more vulnerable to sickness and mortality. Give calves the right start to improve survival rates.

Maternal Scour Protection - Since the cow provides protection via the colostrum, prevention should start with her. When pregnant cows are vaccinated against bacterial and viral pathogens like E. coli, Rotavirus and Coronavirus, they pass along the protection to calves through their colostrum.

Prevent Hypothermia – Warm calves quickly after birth to restore core body temperatures.

Colostrum - It’s important that the calf received adequate colostrum to achieve passive transfer of immunity from disease. Supplementation may be desirable, especially during inclement weather, which can increase pathogen load and weaken the calf’s immune system.

Antibodies – Provide some scour protection until the immune system is functional.

Respiratory Protection – against respiratory diseases IBR, BVD, PI3, BRSV and Mannheimia haemolytica (pasteurella).

Antibiotics - Sulfus and antibiotics are indicated for scours caused by bacterial infection.

Cryptosporidiosis– Causes scours that is resistant to treatment and can quickly spread through a high percentage of the calf crop; avoid buying calves to cross-foster, as this is the usual source of the organism. Clean, dry calving areas also help prevent infection.

As always, if you have questions about the health of your herd, we will do our best to help you find answers that make sense.

Technical Service Veterinarian Team

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