(KMAland) – Having options is ideal, but often different options can make decision making difficult, especially when it comes to calf and cow health management protocols. Aj Tarpoff (tarp_off), Associate Professor and Veterinarian of Beef at Kansas State University, is here to discuss health management from both a cow and calf perspective and how investing in health management is beneficial over the long term .
“Get back to basics when we talk about good quality, helpful, strong, and resilient immune systems. So it’s animal husbandry. Diet, okay. Comfort. Reduce stressors. All of these are aspects to increase immune function. Add to that maturity, okay. It actually takes a fully developed immune system for the cattle to reach maximum immune maturity. “
From birth, passive immunity is the short-term immunity built from the antibodies a calf receives from the cow’s colostrum. It is critical during the first 2 to 4 hours of a newborn calf’s life.
“When a calf is born, it actually has a permeable layer of intestines. And that gives the large cells like antibodies, white blood cells and fats all of the energy in vitamins and nutrients that the newborn calf needs. This permeable intestine begins to seal up pretty quickly after birth. So in the first two to four hours of life it is really important to have the right quality and quantity of colostrum, which the calves ingest as early as possible. “
The degradation in health management changes as calves age and become more susceptible to risks such as bovine respiratory disease.
“As cattle get older, the passive immunity they receive from their mothers decreases. Here we have a vulnerable animal. You’re still on the cow. They’re still out on the pasture, but we’re starting to see this kind of transition through our immune function, where it goes from the antibodies they got from their mother in colostrum shortly after giving birth to their body, which is their own natural Builds immune response. And this is the critical phase of this takeover for them to really thrive, and that we can possibly begin to develop cattle raspatories. An important aspect that is available to us for management is the use of vaccines. Vaccines challenge the animal’s immune system to build its own immune response. So it helps to mimic a natural infection to which this animal can react and already has a prepackaged memory to be able to react in the wild when it comes into contact with a wild strain of one of these pathogens. “
Stress can make us more susceptible to disease, and it is similar in cattle. Tarpoff says stress is directly related to immune function and strength.
“Now I like to write things that impair immune function, whether it’s a full-grown cow or a newborn calf, in response to stress. Stress takes many different forms. Ecological damage. We have blizzards. We have cold stress. We’re under heat stress, okay. All of these are different types of diet and body stress for this animal. These are all things we try to manage as best we can. We are helping to change the environment to alleviate some of these stressors as much as possible. But then we also focus on some of the things we can control. Our management programs, when we deal with the animals and how we deal with the animals. “
Comprehensive health management is necessary for optimal cow and calf health. Visit the American Angus Association’s YouTube channel, Angus TV for the full-length Cargill-sponsored “Capitalizing on Calf Management” webinar and to subscribe to additional educational content.
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