Antibody failure is nearly 14 times higher on farms that didn’t properly monitor progress. But the survey found that 40% of farms never checked the transfer of antibodies from colostrum by calf blood analysis.
What’s more, another 33% only do it in the event of a problem.
Independent veterinary professional Owen Atkinson said farmers should be checking colostrum antibody absorption routinely. “Progress has been slow in this area but now appears to be improving,” he said. “In 2015 just 3% of farms were blood testing calves5 but this latest survey suggests more than a quarter of the farms are now working with their vet in this area. That’s really encouraging.”
Better calf health was possibly when veterinary professionals and farmers worked together. “Measuring and monitoring are important and there are now a variety of tools available to encourage productive dialogue on farm and record progress.
Preventing disease – including the use of proven vaccines – was far better than having to constantly treat problems and having to rely on antibiotics. The MSD Animal Health Calf Checklist helped to improve management, said Mr Atkinson.
It made it easier to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the calf rearing system – with periodic re-visits to monitor progress and any improvement. “I urge all dairy farmers rearing youngstock to ask their veterinary professional for help in this area.”