Calf health is critical to beef and dairy operations, and a wide range of factors can influence the success of an operation’s calf-management program.

Purina Animal Nutrition recently hosted a beef and dairy nutrition conference for veterinarians at the company’s research farm near St. Louis. The final session of the conference featured a panel discussion with all of the presenters from the past two days, including prominent beef and dairy veterinarians, nutritionists and other scientists.

As the discussion wrapped up, an audience member asked each of the presenters on the panel to name one thing veterinarians could do to benefit young cattle on the farm or ranch. Following are their replies, some of which apply more to either beef or dairy while some apply to any cattle operation.

·         Improve colostrum management.

·         Wean (beef) calves on the farm and castrate steer calves early in life.

·         Feed dairy calves more milk, more often.

·         Educate clients better on the proper and  judicious use of antimicrobials and anti-parasitic drugs. 

·         Conduct a water analysis on the farm at least once per year. Twice is better (particularly dairy farms).

·         Design dairy facilities to facilitate delivery of colostrum to calves, and plan better for logistics in colostrum management.

·         Build a circle of mentors and call on them for assistance in solving problems.