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Calf Management- Proactive or Reactive?

By: Greg Muchmore

In January’s article, my mid-western colleague Dan Hoying shared 
excellent information regarding physiology of the newborn calf and 
the challenges it faces – especially in the first three weeks of 
life.  If you haven’t read it, read it.  Every farm is different and 
some take a proactive approach to raising calves, others take a 
reactive approach – which one are you?  Neither one is completely 
right, as long as you get the desired results- live, healthy calves 
on their way to improve genetically your bottom line.  The purpose of 
this article is to give a recommendation for both approaches – both 
proactive and reactive, so you can analyze your particular situation 
and go with the one that fits the best.

Once the colostrum is given, we know the immunity that it gives 
decreases over the next 2 ½ weeks – that’s why most calves die or 
become ill in this time period.  If you are more of a reactive nature, 
I would recommend keeping a couple tubes of Convert gel on hand 
along with a pail of Convert Ranch Pack.  If the calf scours, give 
it a 15 cc dose of Convert gel – results will come quickly – within 
12 hours. When scours show up, there is no time to test for pathogens, 
you want the calf to survive and if the calf scours from Salmonella,
E,coli, Rota/Corona virus, you will see results quickly. This tells 
you the calf has one or more of these common pathogens – then put the 
calf on Convert Ranch Pack daily until it’s old enough to produce its 
own antibodies against these pathogens (21 days old).

Now to the proactive approach – Often colostrum is contaminated with 
bacteria so, the calf is exposed – also, quality is highly variable – 
that’s why we recommend Immpower TBC (True Bovine Colostrum) 
immediately after birth to maximize immunity and decrease the possibility 
of Johnes infection.  Beside the initial dose of IGG (100 – 200 depending 
on dose level), Immpower is packed with specialized proteins for the most 
common pathogens killing calves in their first 21 days of life – Salmonella, 
E, coli, Rota/Corona virus.  The bad news is that specialized proteins 
are only effective as long as they are in the gut; that’s why Convert 
Ranch Pack needs to be dosed daily for the first 21 days until the calf 
can begin to manufacture its own antibodies.

So, there it is – Proactive or Reactive?  The cost of one program is 
only about $5 per calf plus or minus – but you know you will see more 
dead calves and more Vet bills.  If you are Proactive, giving the calf 
100 grams IGG at birth costs $35 or less depending on purchase 
quantity. Providing antibody protection daily against the pathogens 
previously stated for 21 days costs less than 50 cents per day.  So 
where do you fit and do you need to adjust your calf raising program?  
If things aren’t going as well as you would like, talk to your Select 
Sires representative – you’ve just bought the very best semen to get 
the cow bred with a quality herd replacement; don’t lose the calf in 
the first 3 weeks of life!

If you are considering a change, there is no better time than now – 
ask your Select representative about our Buy 5 get 1 Free promotion on 
Convert gel running through the end of February!