(KMAland) – Having options is great, but often having various options can make decision making difficult, especially when it comes to calf and cow health management protocols. Aj Tarpoff (tarp_off), associate professor and beef veterinarian at Kansas State University is here to discuss health management from a cow and calf perspective and how to invest in a management of the health is beneficial in the long run.
âGet back to basics when we start talking about a good, useful and strong immune system. So this is breeding. Nutrition, okay. Comfort. Decrease stressors. All of these are aspects of increasing immune function. On top of that, there’s maturity, okay. It actually takes to have a fully mature immune system can take up to two years for the cattle to reach some sort of maximum immune maturity. “
Beginning at birth, passive immunity is the short-term immunity established from the antibodies that a calf receives through the colostrum of the cow. It is critical within the first 2-4 hours of a newborn calf’s life.
âWhen a calf is born, it actually has a leaky intestinal layer. And it allows the big cells like antibodies, white blood cells and fat and all the energy in vitamins and nutrients that the newborn calf needs. This leaky gut begins to seal quite quickly after birth. So really, in the first two to four hours of life, having the quality and quantity of colostrum that is consumed by the calves as early as possible is really essential.
The attenuation of health management changes as calves age and become more vulnerable to risks such as bovine respiratory disease.
âAs cattle begin to age, the passive immunity they derive from their mothers begins to decline. This is where we have a sensitive animal. They are still on the cow. They are still grazing, but we are starting to see this kind of transition through our immune function where it goes from the antibodies they received from their mothers shortly after birth in the colostrum to their bodies building their own response. natural immune system. And it is this critical step in this takeover for themselves to really start to thrive on their own that it is possible that we can start to develop RASD. Now a key aspect that we have for management is the use of vaccines. Vaccines are a challenge for the animal’s immune system to build its own immune response. Thus, it helps to mimic the natural infection where this animal can react and already has a preset memory to be able to respond in the wild if it comes in contact with a wild strain of any of these pathogens. “
Stress can make us more vulnerable to disease, and it is the same with cattle. Tarpoff says stress is directly related to immune function and strength.
âNow the things that interfere with immune function, whether it’s a mature cow or a newborn calf, I like to blame it all on stress. Stress takes many different forms. Environmental stress. We have blizzards. We have the stress of the cold. We have heat stress, okay. All of these are different types of stress on this animal nutritionally and physically. So, these are all things that we try to manage to the best of our ability. We help change the environment to help alleviate some of these stressors as much as possible. But then we also focus on some of the things that we can control. Our management programs, when we handle animals and how we manage animals.
A comprehensive health management program is necessary for optimal health of cows and calves. Visit the American Angus Association’s YouTube channel, Angus TV, to watch the Cargill sponsored “Capitalizing on Calf Management” webinar and subscribe for more educational content.