Reaching Our Jersey Calf Management Goals
This article is part one of a series that Scott
Bascom, Ph.D., will be writing for the
Jersey Journal. Bascom is a former
Southeast Area Representative for the
American Jersey Cattle Association and is
now a Dairy Specialist for Cooperative
Plus in Wisconsin.
J ersey calves are more valuable now than
ever. In 2005, Jersey yearlings averaged
nearly $2,000 per head. If we assume the
average cost of rearing a Jersey calf from
birth to 12 months of age is $2/day (a rather
high estimate) then a newborn Jersey heifer
calf has a value of over $1,200! Therefore,
reviewing calf management goals is a
In this series of articles we will review With the demand for Jerseys in the industry today, every newborn calf is a commodity worth
five fundamental goals for Jersey calf saving. In this series of articles, raising healthy calves, rumen development, efficient growth
management including: and calf mortality will all be examined. Helpful tips will be given to lay the foundation for high
• Low Mortality production in your cows.
• Healthy Calves
• Rumen Development critical to the calf to acquire immunity. they are fed two (2) quarts of high quality
• Efficient Growth The table below outlines the three “Q’s” at birth and an additional two (2) quarts of
• Laying the foundation for high of colostrum management. These are the high quality colostrum 12 hours later.
production. familiar rules of colostrum management. Jersey calves fed this way had a higher
This article will focus on reducing calf However, over 25% of the calves in the serum IgG concentration than calves fed
mortality and improving calf health. National Dairy Heifer Evaluation Project four (4) quarts at birth. Jersey cows
(NDHEP) had failure of passive transfer produce colostrum with a higher IgG
Reducing Mortality of immunity, indicating that at high concentration (65.8 mg/ml) than colostrum
A realistic goal for mortality in the first percentage of calves do not receive an from Holsteins (48.2 mg/ml), and it is not
12 weeks of life for calves born healthy is adequate quantity of quality colostrum. uncommon to see IgG concentrations over
5% or less. Recent National Animal Health The NDHEP also reported that the death 80 mg/ml in Jersey colostrum. This
Monitoring Service (NAHMS) surveys rate in calves that had failure of passive difference in IgG concentration
report the average for calf mortality in the transfer was four times higher than in underscores the importance of feeding
United States is between 8% and 11%, but calves that successfully acquired colostrum with a high IgG concentration
over 96% of the calves in these data sets immunity. to Jersey calves.
were Holsteins. The calves in the NDHEP were
A survey conducted with Jersey calves predominantly Holstein. A typical Dipping Navels
by researchers at Virginia Tech showed calf recommendation for Holstein calves is to The opening of the umbilical cord is an
mortality averaged ideal point of entry for
6.7% indicating The three Q’s of Colostrum Management bacteria into the body
Jersey breeders do a cavity of the young
better job raising “Q” Traditional Rule Specific Guideline for Jerseys calf. Left alone this
calves. Even in opening remains for
herds with low calf Quantity 4 quarts 2 quarts at first and second feeding several days but
mortality, further Quality >50 mg Ig/ml >65 mg Ig/ml saturating the navel
reductions in calf with a 7% iodine
mortality can result Quickly Within 4 hours Within 4 hours and 12 hours later solution will cause the
in an increased navel to dry up and
number of heifers reduce the risk of
available for herd expansion or to sell. deliver 4 quarts of colostrum at birth. disease and mortality. The University of
Recent research has demonstrated that this Wisconsin compared calves that had their
Colostrum practice is not the optimum procedure for navels disinfected and those that did not.
The newborn calf is born with very Jersey calves. Jaster reported (March 2005 Mortality in the calves with disinfected
limited immunity. Delivering high quality Jersey Journal) Jersey calves have higher navels was 7.1% but was 18% in the calves
colostrum to the calf soon after birth is a levels of blood IgG concentration when (continued to page xx)
Jersey Calf Management Researchers at Virginia Tech examined manage scours, and preventing respiratory
(continued from page xx) the relationship between calf health and disease are key components to a successful
the performance of over 2,500 Holstein calf management program that results in
that did not have disinfected navels. Only calves in a commercial herd. They healthier calves and low calf mortality.
5% of the calves whose navels were discovered heifers that had two or more Jersey calves are unique from other
disinfected were treated for pneumonia, but incidences of respiratory disease as calves breeds due to their frame size.
18.9% of the other calves were treated. entered the milking herd one month later Implementing management practices
than heifers that had no incidence of specifically designed for Jersey calves can
Calving Environment calfhood respiratory disease. improve our success in raising Jersey
The newborn calf has limited defenses In addition, calves that had no calves.
against pathogens. Therefore, it is incidences of respiratory disease or scours
important to minimize the number of had a greater probability to remain in the
pathogens in the calving environment. milking herd for 730 days of productive
Keeping the calving environment clean and life. While this data only examined
dry can reduce the risk of exposure to Holstein calves it is reasonable to expect
pathogenic organisms. that similar relationships between calf
In addition, it is important to protect the health and performance exists in Jersey
newbor n calf from extremes in calves.
temperature. Newborn calves are not
accustomed to regulating their body Scours
temperature and they can rapidly loose A common disease problem in calves is
body heat. Calves born in environments scours. A variety of pathogens can result
with moderate temperatures are subject to in scours and diarrhea in calves. Calves
less stress and will not use as much energy with diarrhea can loose one gallon of fluid
to maintain their body temperature. This per day while healthy calves may gain one
is particularly the case with Jersey calves quart of fluid per day. This difference in
due to their smaller frame size. Jersey fluid balance is a challenge that must be
calves loose body heat more quickly than overcome to keep the scouring calf
calves with a larger frame. Therefore, it is hydrated. Proper electrolyte management
critical that newborn Jersey calves are is critical in reducing the risk of scouring.
moved so they are housed in a warm, draft The keys to electrolyte management
free environment. include offering electrolytes as soon as the
calf shows any signs of scouring or being
Healthier Calves off feed. Offer electrolytes frequently to
All of the management practices restore the calf ’s electrolyte balance.
discussed previously improve the health of Developing a protocol to prevent
calves and reduce the risk of mortality. dehydration in calves on your farm can pay
Not only do healthy calves have a lower huge dividends.
risk of death but they also may be healthier While conducing research at Virginia
and more productive as mature cows. Tech, researchers saw a signif icant
reduction in the mortality of Jersey calves
on research when a Jersey-specif ic
protocol was developed and implemented.
(Editors note: More information is
available on this protocol from the author.)
Respiratory disease is the second most
common disease in calves. Reducing the
incidence of pneumonia in calves can be
more challenging than reducing the
incidence of scours. Providing well
ventilated and draft free housing for calves
is important in preventing respiratory
disease. There are a variety of vaccinations
that are specific for organisms that cause
pneumonia. Working with a veterinarian
to develop a routine vaccination program
can reduce the incidence of respiratory
Raising healthy calves early on will result disease in calves.
more often than not in more productive cows.
Calves that exhibited no respiratory problems
or scours had a greater probability to remain Summary
in the milking herd longer. Clean, well- Proper colostrum management,
ventilated pens are important to managing providing a suitable calving environment,
healthy calves. dipping navels, implementing protocols to