Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Nice Dehorning Summary from
Veterinarian's Point of View

In the Vita Plus "Starting Strong" calf publication I found this nice dehorning summary written by a dairy DVM. 

It includes good definitions of disbudding and dehorning, options for pain control, and two protocols for dehorning - one for paste and one for hot iron.

Very practical advice. Enjoy

Click HERE or paste this URL in your browser

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Another Take on Bottle vs. Tube Feeding Colostrum

Earlier work comparing two methods of feeding colostrum measured antibody levels in calf blood. They found that as long as good quality clean colostrum was fed at the rate of at least 3 quarts the feeding method did not influence the effectiveness of antibody transfer. A more detailed report of this work is available HERE or paste this URL

This research examined the rate at which the colostrum entered the abomasum. 

They examined a key factor determining antibody absorption - the rate at which the abomasum empties. They found that these two methods, tube or bottle feeding of colostrum, stimulated the same rate of abomasal emptying. Thus, we should expect the same level of immunity regardless of method of feeding.

Reference: Desjardins-Morrissette, M. and Others "The effect of tube versus bottle feeding colostrum on immunoglobulin G absorption, abomasal emplying, and plasma hormone concentrations in newborn calves." Journal of Dairy Science 101:4168-4179. 2018

Friday, May 17, 2019

Managing Physical Barriers to Infection

Dr. Don Sockett (University of Wisconsin) talked about this topic at a calf/heifer conference. His challenge was to suggest on-farm ways calf managers could reduce infection rates - particularly among pre-weaned calves. 

Here is his list of management-sensitive factors:
1. Intact skin and mucous membranes
2. Normal microbial flora 
3. Fatty acids in the skin 
4. Acid in the stomach (abomasum) 
5. Hair and cilia in the nasal and respiratory tract 
6. Enzymes in saliva, tears and intestine
7. Coughing, sneezing, vomiting, urination, diarrhea

I must admit that until I heard his presentation at this conference I had never made a careful survey of what I could do as a calf manager to manage these barriers. See what you think about this.

This resource is at , scroll down to "Healthy Calves: Managing Physical Barriers to Infection.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Hay: Limited or Free-Choice for Weaned Calves?

I just revised this entry in my Calf Facts resource library. [access is easy at or the URL is

The summary points:
What do we conclude about feeding forage to weaned heifers?

  1. A limited amount of forage works well. Remember that too much forage depresses dry matter intake in these animals with small rumen capacities.

  1. Feed enough protein to take advantage of young heifers’ ability to grow rapidly. Blend high-protein pellets with hay to get no less than 16.5 percent crude protein mix.

3.     When feeding free-choice hay/grain mix, the range of 5 to 15 percent hay may be predicted to give satisfactory gains (1.9 – 2.3 pounds per day) although less hay may result in roughly 20 percent higher gains compared to the higher level.

4.     Feeding free choice hay to young heifers (seven to ten weeks of age) is very likely to result in unsatisfactory rates of gain.

The body of the entry reviews research trial results feeding various levels of protein and comparing limited and free-choice hay feeding. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Rib fractures among calves

As part of a study about respiratory infections 215 female calves were examines on 3 dairies in southwestern Ontario Province, Canada. They found; 123 cases where lung consolidation had occurred. In addition they also found 14 rib fractures (7%).

While rib fractures among this population were not common, still 7 percent should be considered significant from the point of view of those 14 calves. Other work at the University of Illinois suggests that these fractures occur most commonly with difficult deliveries. 

Thus, best management  practice suggests that in cases of difficult (and, prolonged) deliveries we routinely check the rib cage for abnormalities. 

With my own calves I tagged a suspected rib-fracture calf's hutch for extra careful handling, close observation at feeding times for slow drinking and/or incomplete consumption of milk, and any symptoms of respiratory illness. 

Reference: Dunn, T.R. and Others,"The effect of lung consolidation , as determined by ultrasonography, on first lactation milk production in Holstein dairy calves" Journal of Dairy Science Vol 100, Supplement 2, Abstract 192, page 194.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Rebuild of website

The May issue of the calf management newsletter describes the changes for the website. There are new categories from which to choose to find individual Calf Notes written by Dr. Jim Quigley.

This May issue is HERE or paste this URL in your browser:


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Navels: What's Normal and Abnormal?

This is the title of a new entry in the Calf Facts resource library. []

The main points:
1. What is normal at birth for very young calves? 
2. What is abnormal at birth for very young calves? 
3. Preventing infections
4. Diagnosing and treating infections promptly. Eighty-eight percent of the navel infections from an  on-farm study were neither diagnosed nor treated by the owners!

Go to and scroll down to Navels: What's Normal and Abnormal?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Dehorning Calves
Resource Sheet with Links to Video Resource and Injection Guide

This two-page resource sheet is just up-dated to include video resources. 

The key points:

  • Earlier is better than later. When using paste try to complete the process during the first week. [video on using paste] When hot iron cauterizing 3 to 4 weeks of age is a good time.

  • Use a local anesthetic and remember that more restraint is safer for both the animal and the person than less restraint. [diagram showing appropriate blocking injection]

  • Less stress is better than more stress. Isolate dehorning from other stresses.
Click HERE to go to the resource sheet.
Or, copy this URL into your browser

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Resource Sheet for Calves

Just revised is the resource sheet on dehydration in calves in the Calf Facts calf management library. 

The key points are:
1. Why do calves get dehydrated? 
2. Preventing dehydration is more cost effective than treating it. 
  •      Reduce pathogen exposure. 
  •     Increase immunity to pathogens. 
  •     Free-choice water. 
3. Treating it requires timely measures appropriate to the degree of dehydration

Click HERE to go to the resource sheet.
or copy this URL in your browser