The Importance of Hygiene and Nutrition During Calving Season
These days, the majority of UK farmers don’t have a set calving season, with around 80% of farmers choosing to calve all year round rather than in the traditional ten or twelve week blocks in the spring or autumn. There are many advantages of this approach, particularly when it comes to cash flow and workload, and it can help to avoid the exhausting intensity of a calving season, where extreme fatigue can lead to costly mistakes.
However, calving all year round does come with its own challenges, with farmers having to be constantly prepared for calving, and needing to maintain the very highest standards of hygiene consistently throughout the year. Unlike set season farmers, all year round calvers do not have a run up to the season in which to prepare for the new arrivals, and so they have to be ready at all times. This is less labour intensive than a short season, but typically requires more labour overall, although this is spread across the year to help the farm finances.
To operate a year-round calving system, you need to have the very best biosecurity in place at all times, and Kilco are always on hand to help. With few natural antibodies at birth, calves are especially vulnerable to infections, and so meticulous cleaning and disinfection are essential to create a safe environment and minimise their exposure to disease. It is estimated that half of calf deaths are due to scours resulting from poor hygiene, so the importance of biosecurity cannot be emphasised enough.
Cleaning calving areas thoroughly requires a combination approach. Firstly, a detergent, such as Ecofoam Advanced, is used to thoroughly clean the area and remove all organic matter. This is followed by a disinfectant, such as Cyclex, which is clinically proven against diseases such as coccidiosis and cryptosporidiosis.
The best defence
Of course, one of the best defences against disease is the calf’s own antibodies. However unlike many animals, these are not passed on to the calf before birth, and they have to be obtained in the first few hours from the mother’s colostrum. If this does not occur, or if the calf has received insufficient colostrum from the mother, Kilco are here to help again, with an artificial alternative that is rich in the nutrients and energy a new born calf requires.
Calf nutrition can be further enhanced with Calsolve, a nutritional supplement that is rich in much-needed vitamins, prebiotics and chelated trace elements. Given within 12 hours of birth, this will help the calf to develop a robust immune system, further protecting it from disease.
Caring for calves
Even with the best biosecurity, there is always a chance that disease will occur, but Kilco will always be by your side when it does. One of the major problems for young calves is dehydration as a result of diarrhoea from intestinal infections. Electrosolve has been specially formulated to replace lost fluids and electrolytes in this situation, restoring fluid balance. It also contains essential pre-biotics to encourage the growth of healthy gut flora, which will also help fight disease.
With almost 2 million dairy cows in the UK, producing over 1.3 million registered calves every year, health and hygiene have never been more important. Now that Kilco is part of the global food safety group, Kersia, we will be able to offer an even wider range of products to support your calving processes and help create a healthy herd. So whether you calve all year round, or stick to traditional seasons, you know your calves can count on us to give them the very best start in life.
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