Journal Presents Collection on Calf Health, Management

US - The United States Department of Agriculture-National Animal Health Monitoring System (USDA-NAHMS) conducted a survey of 2,545 pre-weaned heifer calves across 104 dairy operations in 2014.
calendar icon 24 September 2018
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The study, which took place in 13 states over 18 months, covered a large cross-section of management of pre-weaned heifer calves in the United States, and the results have been published in six new articles in the October issue of the Journal of Dairy Science.

"Results from the study contain the latest information on the health and management of pre-weaned heifer calves in the United States. The information in these publications will help to improve the health and well-being of pre-weaned dairy heifer calves," said Jason Lombard, DVM, of USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-(APHIS)-Veterinary Services (VS) Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health, NAHMS, Fort Collins, CO, USA.

Management of pre-weaned dairy calves is complex, and many factors play a role in the success of practices at the farm level. Rearing heifer calves is also an expensive endeavor, at approximately $5.50 per calf per day. Therefore, research to maximize the efficiency of raising replacement heifers and minimize losses due to morbidity and mortality is extremely important.

Because the industry is continually changing, however, having current information on management practices throughout the United States is a necessity. As such, these six studies from the USDA-NAHMS represent an important collection to reflect the current state of the dairy industry.

The articles included in the October issue of the Journal of Dairy Science include survey results on descriptive characteristics of pre-weaned heifer raising practices, colostrum quality and passive transfer status, Cryptosporidium and Giardia infections, the presence of Escherichia coli, morbidity and mortality, as well as average daily gain.

These studies provide dairy producers with a wealth of information to help them improve their calf-rearing practices in terms of outcomes and efficiency. The authors hope that the results may also be used to guide education programs and improve overall calf health.

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