90 per cent of pathogens are transmitted to calves in the first hours of life, but adopting good hygiene practices could reduce the risk of costly infections at a later date.
Rob Kelly, regional sales director at hygiene product company Diversey, said: “Consider the calving pen and the area the calf is housed in, particularly within the first 24 hours of its life.
“Many farmers disinfect to remove the risk of cocci and cryptosporida, however this can be a false policy without an effective cleaning regime undertaken first.
“A caustic foam or gel product is very effective, as reducing the micro-organism challenge and is highly recommended.
“Teat hygiene should also be considered, especially pre-sucking or pre-milking, and pathogens are removed before the calf ingests them. By effectively disinfecting, the risk from the teat and the milk drawn from the teat is reduced.”
Mr Kelly added that failing to clean and disinfect equipment used to deliver milk, feed or water would encourage the proliferation of microorganisms which could be readily ingested.
He also said it was important those working around livestock were not complacent with personal hygiene.
“Coaxing calves to suckle the cow or to the bucket is common practice, yet I would question how many people wash their hands before this exercise or between calves. Yet it could lead to the passing of harmful microorganisms to or between calves.
“A few seconds of effort to disinfect hands, could save hours of care for a sick calf, so invest time to prevent infection.
“Biosecurity needs to be taken seriously. Disinfect boots and clothing if necessary, especially when entering the neonatal calf area, hutch or calving pen. This is good practice and should be implemented as part of the farms calf health policy.”