Organic farming may seem limiting, with certain medicines and fertilisers being banned, but that doesn’t mean modern technology can’t aid you in making it as efficient as possible!
Restrictions on antibiotics unless specially indicated for can make organic farming a risky business. But good stockmanship paired with our calving sensor is a huge asset can take the prospect of certain illnesses out of the equation early.
Simply being there as the calf comes out means that you can take the necessary steps to stop disease in its tracks before it begins. Because a calf’s immune system is nearly non-existent, any intervention you make have a massive effect on the calf’s development in the future.
It can help prevent:
Calves are not born with a winter hair coat so they need that extra layer to help keep them strong and healthy.
If the weather is exceedingly cold, you should dry off the calf rather than leaving them to ‘air dry’.
The reason for this is that hair coat insulates calves by standing on and and trapping a layer of air around the animal. If it is dry and matted this cannot be the case.
If you did not have the calving sensor, and it was a cold night, you would be leaving the calf at risk of developing it.
Prevent aspiration pneumonia.
While this type of pneumonia is man-made, from feeding the calf the wrong way, it can also be brought about naturally by an abnormally large hole in the nipple that lets out too much milk.
Calves cannot swallow all of the fluid fast enough and it goes down their windpipe, and into their lungs instead.
The calf can’t expel that fluid from their lungs and they get sick. If you are there to milk the colostrum from the cow for the calf yourself, you will spot this and thus prevent the calf from getting sick.
Ensure that all newborn calves receive colostrum
This can’t be stressed enough.
Calves are born with a very poorly developed immune system, but antibodies found in a cow’s first milk after giving birth can help calves build that up.
As well as the vital antibodies being transferred from the dam, the hydration provided from the colostrum makes for a bright, healthy calf.
A handy way to remember best practice for colostrum feeding is 1, 2, 3:
- 1st milk only
- Within 2 hours of birth
- 3 litres
At birth, calves are composed of 70% water. However, becoming dehydrated provides the perfect building block for infectious agents to step in.
For this reason the calf needs to take on board as many fluids and electrolytes as they’re losing.
Even if you live away from the farm you’ll have time to get to there when your cow is calving with notifications 2 hours and 1 hour before the calf is on the ground.
Presuming all goes well, you can ensure plentiful and timely colostrum consumption to help hydrate the calf and prevent scours (and scours treatment) later.
While it isn’t a hereditary disease, it can be passed on if a newborn calf swallows the bacteria in their infected mother’s colostrum. It can also be transmitted if they ingest a small amount of manure from an infected animal.
Calves are occasionally infected at birth when the mother is in advanced stage of the disease. If a newborn becomes infected, signs of this aren’t likely to surface until two or more years later.
However, if you apply best practice you can minimise the spread of the infection on your farm at calving time.
- Remove the calf as soon as possible from the calving pen, and into a clean, dry and uncontaminated environment.
- Collect the colostrum yourself. This way you can maximise the quality of what the calf is taking on board. When you do this, make sure your hands, the cow’s udders and the containers for the colostrum are clean before you collect. Additionally, wash the container between uses.
- Feed the colostrum from test negative cows.
The Moocall calving sensor gives you time to be on the scene to stop the calf from taking colostrum from a potentially infected udder, and you can be there to move the calf into a safe clean environment as soon as possible.
If you know the dam is infected, you can feed the calf colostrum from another animal if you freeze it ahead of time.
While colostrum is vital to a calves early development, it is just as important to be vigilant for Johne’s disease.
You can learn more about the Moocall Calving Sensor here: https://moocall.com/products/moocall-sensors