Friday, May 29, 2020

Keep Vaccines Cool This Summer

"Temperature influences the efficacy of some pharmaceutials" says Maureen Hanson in a recent issue of Dairy Herd Management (May/June 2020, p 24)

It the job of the calf care persons to manage the environment for the vaccines that play an important role in preventing disease in the herd's calves. 

Suggestions included in this brief review reflect the industry recommendation to keep vaccines in the temperature range of 35 and 45 F. (1.7-7.2 C).

How to do this:

Suggestions are:
1. Monitor their temperature before use - while in storage. A study in Idaho found that only 35 % of refrigerators checked on-farm stayed in the 35-45F range 95% of the time! Only a third! I would say it is time to buy a thermometer for the refrigerator if you do not already have one.

2. Keep vaccines cool while you are using them
In practice I always used a cooler with an ice pack in the bottom when carrying vaccines in hot weather. Once on site, I only mixed one bottle at a time, gave injections, came back and mixed another bottle. 

Let me share a story about a dairy that complained that their vaccines were not working (in the summer). I arrived shortly before noon on a hot summer day - it was already 90F. Two workers were ready to start giving injections. All four bottles of vaccine had been mixed and were ready to go - sitting along with the syringes on the hot tailgate of the pickup truck. No cooler, no way to keep vaccines cool from the time they came out of the refrigerator back at the utility room. Syringes were hot to the touch.

My recommendations were:
1. Change the time of day for vaccinating. I would prefer vaccinating very early morning (between 5 and 6 am) when calf body temperature is lowest. The highest calf body temperature will occur regularly around 5 pm so that is the time to be sure to avoid.

2. Put all vaccines in a cooler avoiding direct contact with ice (don't want to freeze them) and keep them there until they are ready to use.

3. Only mix as much vaccine that can be used in 15-20 minutes - especially under hot environmental conditions. 

4. Keeping the syringes in a cooler will help, too. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Quick! What's "Normal" for a calf's
1. temperature 2. respiration rate 3. heart rate?

This little quiz is aimed at making us think for a momment, "Just what do I consider "normal" for my calves?

In a brief article, "Know a calf's vital signs," Maureen Hanson summarized these numbers for us (Dairy Herd magazine, April 2020, p22).

100 to 102.5 F rectal - digital thermometers are in common use now. 

36-60 breaths per minute - just watching the rise and fall of the body cavity.

100-140 beats per minute.  "Easily accessible arteries are located at the base of the tail and under the jaw. Keep in mind heart rate will increase when calves are moved or otherwise highly active, so attempt to measure resting heart rate for an accurate assessment."

Did you remember all three "normal" rates?

Monday, May 25, 2020

Solve the Problem of Pneumonia among Young Calves

A conversation with a calf care person highlighted their problem with pneumonia among calves less than 10 days old. I asked them to bring the nipples they were using to feed colostrum and any other bottle fed milk.

Do you know what I found? Every one, yes every one of the nipple openings had been sliced open with a knife. This a common solution to the problem of too-slow feeding. 

Try looking at this resource for a reason we should NOT slice open nipples and how to solve the "slow nipple" problem

or click HERE.

In espanol click HERE or enter this URL
The document is titled Espera! No se corta esa chupon!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Out of balance = sick calf

The most recent issue of the calf management newsletter is now posted online at 

The key points
  • Too many challenges and too little immunity.
  • The futile search for "THE" cause of sickness (scours, pneumonia)
  • A team approach is most likely to succeed. 
  • Links to resources on boosting immunity and suppressing pathogen expossure. 

Just a note on the prolonged lack of posting at the blog.
Our veterinary clinic closed in mid-March to everyone but the practicing DVM's. That isolated me from all my hard copy resources AND my computer. It's possible but complicated to get reliable remote access - which I now have.
In addition, after two surgeries for oral cancer (Dec. and Jan.) I had 30 sessions of radiation therapy in starting in mid-March. The doctors now say that I am cancer free but sure was tiring. 
My energy is back and I hope to post on the blog regularly. 
If you have friends that read my blog, please let that know that Calves with Sam is up and running again.