A four year study of bovine neonatal mortality on 34 dairy farms and an agricultural institute's calf unit showed that 280 (3.2 per cent) of 8752 calves died mainly from diarrhoea and, or , septicaemia. The relationship between management methods and mortality rates were studied at the calf unit. When infection rates were kept low by good standards of hygiene and an adequate quantity of colostrum was fed immediately post partum, morbidity and mortality rates were 8.3 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively, compared with 36 per cent and 4.1 per cent when hygiene was poor and colostrum was withheld until six hours post partum. Ninety-five sick calves were given either glucose-glycine electrolyte solution orally (41 calves) or the electrolyte solution in combination with an antibacterial agent (54 calves) to compare the efficacy of these treatments. Recovery rates, duration of illness and live-weight gains showed no significant difference between the treatments. Mean serum immunoglobulin levels (zinc sulphate turbidity test) of calves at 30 hours old were poor indicators of the future health status of any individual calf. Results indicated that good management with emphasis on hygiene and early feeding of colostrum reduced losses due to neonatal diarrhoea and septicaemia from 4 per cent to 1.2 per cent.
- British Veterinary Association. All rights reserved.
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