Thursday, August 15, 2013

Weak Link in Treating Sick Calves
I have the privilege of sharing the work space at our vet clinic with seven practicing dairy veterinarians. I shamelessly admit to eavedropping. This morning the topic came up of the breakdown of communication between the veterinarian and a calf care person.
This what I heard (or overheard):
1. call came into the clinic early last week asking for a vet to visit the dairy to look at sick calves.
2. vet visited the dairy, made a preliminary diagnosis and collected biological samples for laboratory confirmation of the organism(s) causing severe diarrhea among calves 7 to 21 days of age.
3. vet also prescribed medication (dose, duration, route of administration).
4. last week our in-house lab cultured of colostrum collected just as it was being fed to calves - we found very high coliform counts in more than half of the samples.
5.  the dairy was advised regarding management changes that could possibly reduce these coliform counts.
6. It is now 8 days later. 
7. Silence. No feedback from the farm. Are the calves still sick? Did the medication make any difference? Yet another frustrated veterinarian.

My guess is that we will have to swing by the farm to drop off colostrum sample collection bottles in hope of getting them to re-sample to confirm that any management changes decreased coliform counts.

The weak link in treating sick calves? No evidence of effectiveness of treatment or management changes finds it way back to the vet that both prescribed medication and advised on management improvements. 

Click HERE to see my resource on improving treatment success for sick calves.

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