Starting Calves on the Right Hoof

Each calf crop takes on the role as the future of your operation. The success of your herd is highly dependent on the success of your calves. By being proactive in giving your calves a healthy start you increase their odds of profitability.

When preparing for spring calving there are several factors to keep in mind and ensure you are prepared. These include calving environment, colostrum management, scours prevention, and additional health and record keeping management practices.


If you calve in early spring when outside conditions are still snowy, damp or muddy you will probably want your calves delivered inside. It is important to make sure that calving pens have fresh, clean dry bedding as calves that ingest feces prior to consuming colostrum will experience more health problems. Bedding should be routinely cleaned so as not to transfer bacteria or disease. Calves should be clean and dry before being turned out to pastures and cow-calf pairs should be moved to empty, fresh pastures to avoid co-mingling with larger populations and reduce exposure to pathogens.

Clean fresh water and ample feed should be available to the dam post-partum to aid in recovery.

Colostrum Management

One of the most critical steps to a calf’s health is acquiring immunity through passive transfer via colostrum. It is important to monitor calves to ensure they nurse and receive an adequate amount of colostrum. It is wise to have a quality colostrum replacement on hand, with at least 55 IgG’s in case the dam does not produce colostrum or the calf cannot nurse.

Scours Prevention

Immunity aids in protection against scours, the leading cause of financial loss to cow-calf producers. Scours prevention vaccines can be administered either to the cow prior to calving or to the calf shortly after birth and is available in many different forms.

Other Management Practices

Having a standard protocol in place takes away the guesswork of insuring all calves receive equal care and also serves as a checklist for employees.

Calves should have their navels dipped with an iodine or navel solution to reduce the chance of infection. Calves should also be tagged and important information should be carefully recorded, including date of birth, gender, birth weight and other calving details.

This is also the time to give preventative injections for selenium, vitamin A and D deficiencies. Intranasal vaccinations are also recommended for protection against respiratory disease.

Be sure to contact your veterinarian or your trusted ANIMART representative with treatment questions.