Lambs are born with an immunological disadvantage due to immunoglobulins being unable to be passed through the placenta to the lamb during pregnancy, making them particularly vulnerable to diseases. During the first two hours of life the gut is 20-30% efficient at absorbing IgGs, but the capability of the gut declines to 0% after 24 hours. Consequently, it is crucial that lambs receive colostrum soon after birth in order to absorb sufficient antibodies to reduce the risk of disease and mortality.
Calf & Youngstock
The Wynnstay Calf and Youngstock section of the AgriHub is written by specialist in the field. Our lambing news and advice is created to prepare you for the lambing season, making sure that not only is you lambing shed ready but also both lamb and ewe health is managed.
Our team of calf specialists are highly experienced in the field of calf rearing, their blog posts offer calf rearing advice and news for both dairy and beef farmers. Our calf news section looks at calf housing, feeding and health. It also offer advice on how to improve profits and margins on farm.
Calf housing is a critical aspect of any dairy or livestock operation, and the choice of housing design can have a profound impact on the health and well-being of your calves. To optimise calf performance and minimise the incidence and spread of disease, there are key requirements for calf housing that must be considered.
Calf housing is a huge part of calf health and welfare, it can be the change that many systems need to improve their calf rearing. In September, DEFRA launched a £10 million infrastructure grant to fund calf housing, available to new and upgraded calf housing. Improvements such as ventilation, protection from draughts, and suitable temperature and humidity will be key areas to focus on.
Good ventilation systems are essential to reduce respiratory disease in the first months of a calf’s life.
It is estimated that the cost of pneumonia per sick calf is £42.26, with an additional cost of £29.58 per calf for the in-contact group. In turn, this reduces feed efficiency, growth rates, organ development, future milk production and an increased mortality risk before calving.
The transfer of passive immunity in calves is defined as “the absorption of the maternal immunoglobulin, present in colostrum through the small intestine of the calf, during the first 24 hours after birth. Calves are born without any acquired immunity due to the placental structure of the cow and therefore, rely entirely on passive transfer. The colostrum absorbed by the calf activates and regulates the innate responses enabling the calf to fight infection.
The basic requirements of a calf can be condensed into seven key words. These combine to form the points on the YoungStock Signals diamond. All six points need to be satisfied in order to achieve optimum health, welfare and production.
Manipulating photoperiods and light for the milking cows is a fairly well researched and discussed topic. However, often we forget to consider the benefits this could have for dry cows.
Optimising calf and heifer growth rates enhances both the environmental and economic efficiency of dairy farms. Heifer rearing on a dairy farm accounts for over 20% of total farm costs. Feeding calves the required levels of energy and protein through feeding a good quality milk replacer and concentrate will boost their weight gain and development, which ultimately leads to more productive cows.
Measuring the growth rate in youngstock, is one of the most significant ways to measure overall performance. By calculating average daily gain (ADG) we can work out how well the youngstock are growing and use the information as a method of monitoring whether you are using the right feeds. When rearing dairy calves or beef calves, it is important that they grow in an efficient way to meet their target bulling weights or finishing weights on time. Using weigh bands or weighing scales on young calves will give a good indicator of how the calves are progressing and show average daily gain. This will highlight any issues that are preventing calves from reaching sufficient weight. Monitoring growth is also a way to identify problems with your system and rearing protocols.
The relationship between nutrition and calf health influences the longevity and production performance throughout an animals life.
Optimising calf health and nutrition from day one right through to first lactation will help to optimise cow longevity and lifetime milk yields.
In Season 3, Episode 5 of the Wynnstay Agri-Hub Podcast, Millie Hendy our Calf & Youngstock Manager and Charlie Moss from Horizon Vets give an update on some of the latest updates in the industry around calf nutrition and health.