After all your hard work, watching calves stand still as they transition to a pasture only diet must be frustrating, and it’s not good for their development either. There are a few reasons why this happens including nutritional imbalance – grass is simply not a complete diet, removing meal too soon – calves may not be fully developed ruminants able to fully digest pasture alone, poorly developed immune systems – inadequate nutrition during rearing or disease challenges in the rearing phase and specific disease challenges often seen in the transition to pasture such as coccidiosis.
Coccidia are a small parasite that invade and reproduce in the cells lining the intestines of young ruminants. Coccidia are shed in the faeces of infected animals and can quickly reach very high levels in environments where calves are reared.
Over time, calves will develop immunity, but when exposed to high challenge or periods of stress, Coccidiosis can cause checks in growth, scours and even death. Because Coccidiosis damages the gut it can take weeks for calves to fully recover. Even with appropriate treatment, this prolonged check in growth rate can mean calves are behind targets and require preferential treatment to catch up.
Effective control of Coccidiosis requires good hygiene and management strategies. This should include reducing stocking density; regularly clean water and feed troughs, top up bedding in calf pens often; clean pens with steam or disinfectants that kill coccidial oocysts and finally, use rotational grazing when calves move to pasture. This will all help prevent faecal contamination.
Make sure you’re using a good quality calf meal (such as Nourish™ Calf Meal) that includes a coccidiostat which will prevent high coccidial burdens during rearing.
Often when it comes time to wean calves off meal and head onto pasture, we see an increase in symptoms. Finally, there is a tool to manage your calves through this stressful transition, Ruminate’s Forage Balancer® – Weaner assists calves through the transition process, supporting them in the key areas already mentioned. Minerals, Trace elements and Vitamins help balance what is lacking in pasture and support their still developing immune system. Carbohydrate continues to drive rumen development and now with the inclusion of a coccidiostat your calves will receive a daily boost to keep coccidiosis at bay whilst their own immunity develops.
After all your hard work, don’t take any chances, give her the best chance to meet her potential – because she’s worth it.
Talk to your local Franklin Vets team today.