Hygiene, make it a habit! Part 1

In this article we will focus on the importance of hygiene in calf rearing. Nina Hennes, our R&D colleague will share her expertise on this topic.

Part 1 hygiene in calf rearing

Essential is to implement preventive measures in order to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases. At a farm, it is very important to assess what the weak points for transmission of infectious diseases are, and how to prevent transmission as much as possible.

It starts at the immediate birth of the calf. As you know, calves are born without an innate immune system, which means that calves are very vulnerable. Hygiene plays an important role in keeping the infection pressure as low as possible. In this way the calf can use all his energy for growing instead of fighting pathogens.

The calving pen and the mother cow are by nature a source of infections. Therefore it is important to keep the calving pen clean, dry and very important, not overcrowded. By directly disinfecting the navel after birth you prevent microorganism form invading.

When the calf is transported to the individual housing, make sure that the housing is cleaned, disinfected and has been empty for at least one week to make sure that no pathogens has survived.

Moreover, other and older calves can also be a source of transmission of pathogens. Therefore, it is important to individually house the new born calf for the first two weeks of life, and prevent contact of older calves with the younger calves as much as possible. Make sure that when working with the calves, you wear clean coveralls and boots and that you visit the youngest calves first before going to the older calves.

Feeding material (whether milk is fed with the bucket or feeding automate), must be cleaned on a daily basis. Buckets must be cleaned properly, and stored upside down to let them dry well. Microorganisms do not grow in dry environment. Do not forget to make sure the feed and water itself is clean as well.

When a calf gets sick, separate this calf from the healthy calves, so it cannot infect the other calves.

By working in a structured way and keeping everything neat and tidy, the risk of transmission will be controlled. Which in the end will contribute to healthy and well growing calves