Managing your animals’ health is a key factor to securing a profitable operation on your cattle farm. However, maintaining and improving a health programme for your cattle herd can become challenging with all the risks involved.
To get the most of your health management programme, it is best to implement it when the calf is in utero.
Dr Schabort Froneman, a technical manager for ruminants, suggests that farmers look at their herd as a whole, instead of individual animals, since they share the same environment and therefore have the same likelihood of being exposed to pathogens.
“Treating individual animals for health problems is reactive, whereas improving a herd’s health, and hence automatically improving an individual animal’s health, is proactive,” says Froneman.
“For a subclinical or clinical disease to affect an animal, three overlapping factors need to be present simultaneously: a disease-causing pathogen, a susceptible host, and an environment conducive to the proliferation of the disease. Veterinarians and herd managers should always try to prevent or reduce one or more of these overlaps.”
One way to implement preventative measures is to be proactive about your herd’s immunity, he adds.
Taking good care of your breeding cows and replacement heifers is therefore critical to ensuring the good health in your herd, as they are the future of the enterprise.
The neonatal period is the most important period in the animal’s life cycle when it comes to building immunity. Colostrum management and strategic vaccinations are the foundation for developing healthy replacement heifers and weaner calves. Prevention is always better than cure.
Calves’ immune systems are not yet fully developed during the neonatal period. They are also more susceptible to pathogens since their immune systems have not been exposed to or developed immunity to them.
“The full maturation of a bovine’s immune system is only seen when the animal is five to eight months old,” Dr. Froneman adds.
Cows should be vaccinated against bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) before they are mated. If a cow is in-calf and contracts BVD within the first 40 days of pregnancy, there is a great chance that abortion can occur.
The maternal immunity qualities of colostrum can be enhanced by appropriately vaccinating the in-calf cow before she calves. These vaccinations will benefit both the cow and the calf. This has been demonstrated with vaccines against pathogens that cause calf diarrhoea.
Via Farmer’s Weekly.