ANALYSIS - Preventing respiratory problems means optimal nutrition and this starts in the earliest hours of the calf's gestation, advises Dr Mark Alley, Zoetis veterinarian.
Correct colostrum is important, but calves have greater chance of beating bovine respiratory disease (BRD) if foetal nutrition is is prioritised from the earliest point.
Dr Alley stresses that, while it was believed that the last six to eight weeks of gestation were sufficient, current thinking now suggests the whole gestation period is key for setting up robust calves.
He admits research is challenging, with studies having to monitor calf progress, often for around two years.
However, ranchers can be sure of three benefits of correct nutrition before and after birth:
- immune system functions properly
- respond well to vaccines
- respond better to antibiotics if sick
Correct colostrum and nutrition programmes can lead to three to four times less chance of respiratory problems, he added.
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