With winter on the horizon, farmers are being reminded that good hygiene practices are essential to preventing the spread of cryptosporidiosis.
Recent research has found that 50 per cent of calves will experience some sort of scour, with vets reporting that the majority of cases are due to crypto infection, a disease caused by parasites.
Speaking at a recent AHDB Dairy calf to calving event, AHDB Dairy technical manager Andy Dodd said cleaning calf jackets in a hot wash and using disinfectant should be part of any disease prevention strategy.
He says: “Calf jackets can potentially harbour cryptosporidium eggs and they can only be destroyed if the jackets are disinfected with a licensed cryptosporidium disinfectant and then washed at 60 degrees. It is important to allow the jackets to dry completely before re-using them.”
Mr Dodd also discussed the importance of good hygiene in the calf sheds and calving pens, suggesting that farmers steam clean and disinfect areas between calves.
“Calf jackets have an important role to play in maintaining growth rates when ambient temperatures drop”, says Mr Dodd. “By keeping calves warm, they can then partition energy towards growth. This will help maintain growth rates at a target 750-800g per day to calve in at the most economic age of 24 months”.
Mr Dodd noted that It is also worth considering upping milk feeding rates when ambient temperatures drop below the calf’s critical temperature: “For calves up to three weeks of age, for every five degree drop below 15 degrees, you need to increase milk volume fed per head per day by 0.33 litres. When you’re doing it as a one off, it’s best to increase the volume rather than the concentration to avoid nutritional scours.”