Jefferson Veterinary Clinic, S.C.

959 West Racine Street
Jefferson, WI 53549


Navel Treatment
It is very important the umbilical cord is treated as soon after birth with either 7% tincture of iodine (if available) or a solution of Chlorehexidine and Isopropyl Alcohol. If the umbilical cord is not treated properly, bacteria from the environment will enter the calf’s blood stream and lead to several different diseases such as scours, pneumonia and most commonly seen joint infections. We recommend that the navel be dipped at least 2-3 times within the first day of life.
Calves are born without any antibodies to protect them from infection. They receive these important antibodies from the colostrum. Proper timely collection and handling of this will lead to healthier calves. It should be collected from clean cows within the first few hours after calving. This is important because the longer it takes to collect the colostrum, the level of antibodies continues to decline. In addition, Jersey calves should receive 2 quarts of clean quality colostrum while larger breeds such as Holsteins should receive 4 quarts as soon as possible following birth because the longer it takes to feed the calf colostrum, the fewer antibodies will be absorbed by the calf’s intestinal track.
The quality of the colostrum can be checked before it is fed to the calves using a colostrometer or a Brix Meter. If using a Brix Meter, values above 22 are acceptable. We recommend intermittently checking valies at the clinic. If you have adequate colostrum and more than you need, the excess can be frozen in a 4 quart Ziplock bag. Properly label the bag with the dam’s information and the date of collection since it can be stored frozen for up to 6 months. It is also important to cool the colostrum as quickly as possible since the level of bacteria will grow exponentially for every 30 minutes it stays warm.
If there is a concern about Bovine Leukosis Virus (BLV) or Johnes Disease, you should consider feeding a commercially available colostrum replacer. There are several available and they do an adequate job of providing proper levels of antibodies to the calves. We can help you decide which replacers would fit you individual situation.
The level of antibodies can be checked in the calf’s blood by measuring the total protein level. We can do this at the clinic by taking a blood sample from the calf between 12 hours following birth and 7 days of life. A level below 5.8 is not adequate. A level between 5.8 and 6.0 is marginal. And a level greater than 6.0 is adequate.
There are several bacteria (E. coli, salmonella, clostridium, etc.) and viruses (rotavirus and coronavirus) that cause diarrhea in calves. Scours can occur at any age but, frequently occurs between days 7-10 of life. The best method of preventing scours is to properly vaccinate the dry cow and to provide clean quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth. There are several products that can be given to the calf at birth that can help reduce the likelihood of scours. You should also provide a clean dry environment for the calves. Properly cleaned feeding equipment is also important. See the chart below for a recommended procedure for cleaning. We can assess your facility and how to clean it by using a new electronic meter called a Luminometer.

Other forms of scours treatment include products called Last Stand, which is a concentrated form of First Arrival, designed for critically-ill claves suffering from scours. Another product called First Defense can be used to reduce the disease caused by coronavirus-E coli when given to calves at birth.

Treatment for scours mainly consists of keeping the calf hydrated with oral and/or intravenous fluids.  Rarely do antibiotics help but, there are instances that they may be beneficial. Discuss the use of antibiotics with a veterinarian before starting them. There is also a newer product available to help reduce the amount and severity of scours. This product is called First Arrival (available at the clinic) and is designed to be fed twice a day to calves for the first 14 days of life. It has worked well on many dairies in the area.
We can help you design a vaccination schedule and a treatment protocol that works with the problems that you are encountering on your dairy.
Calves can experience pneumonia at anytime during their life but, it commonly occurs following stressful situations or after severe weather changes. It can also occur if there is poor ventilation in your calf facility. There are several vaccines that target both the viral and bacterial agents that cause pneumonia and their use is based on the problems you are experiencing.
There are many very effective antibiotics that you can use to treat calves with pneumonia. A few of these are long acting so minimal retreatment’s are necessary. Some of these products are also effective as prevention when used in a group of calves where a few are already sick. The important thing about treatment is that the sooner a calf is treated, the less likely there will be lifelong affects due to scarring of the lungs.
We can help you design a vaccination schedule and a treatment protocol that works with the problems that you are encountering on your dairy.