Healthy Calves are Possible
On Friday morning, January 18th, I walked 250 preweaned calves on two dairy farms in central New York State. Both farms house calves in hutches well away from cow barns. Brrr. Wind chill in single digits.
When I walk calves I use the observation criteria in the University of Wisconsin School of Vet. Med respiratory risk scoring system Click here to see UW scoring system pdf .
Of the 123 calves on Farm One, I found one calf with cloudy nasal discharge, eyes and ears looked fine (score = 2). She had already been identified by the calf care person and treated. This was the only hutch calf treated for pneumonia since the first of the year.
Of the 127 calves on Farm Two, I found two calves with risk symptoms - one with unilateral cloudy discharge (score = 1) the other with bilateral cloudy discharge, no cough (score = 2).
Farm One has 140 hutches on a crushed stone base. Hutches are cleaned and remain empty for 7 to 10 days before the next calf. Farm Two has 150 hutches on a crushed stone base. Hutches are cleaned and remain empty for 10 to 14 days before the next calf. Both hutch locations are far enough away from adult cow housing to avoid the pathogen plume of air from them.
Both farms follow calving/newborn protocols that minimize pathogen exposure. They both feed liberal amounts of pasteurized milk.
Moral of the Story: Exceptionally good respiratory health is possible among preweaned calves.