As calving season begins on the farm, it can be an incredibly busy time with every member of the farm-family taking on new jobs to help raise the next generation of cows. The first days and weeks of a young calf's life can be the most important, and have a major impact on their future health, wellbeing, growth and productivity. As your calves begin their life, it is important to ensure that calf pens are kept dry, clean and hygienic.
Among the various threats to a young cow, scours and pneumonia are two of the most common diseases that can increase death rates which are both stressful for everyone, and can be costly and reduce future income. If you prepare calf pens and bedding properly with good airflow, and then layer a hard clean base with a good absorbent and then a 300-500mm layer of bedding such as straw, sawdust or shavings on top, your calves will be safer and more comfortable. Zorbifresh Active absorbs up to 199% of its weight in moisture – soaking up ammonia and nitrates, and killing bacteria.
Once your calf pens are prepared, these are our top tips for regularly keeping them clean:
1. The most important task above all is to maintain a clean environment which reduces risks of disease and illness. Remove all clumped organic matter such as manure, and any bedding that is soiled with urine.
2. If there are patches of light soiling that can't be removed, cover them with more bedding and moisture absorbent.
3. Use a disinfectant solution each day to clean and disinfect calf test buckets along with all feeding equipment, and especially your boots.. Hot water and a common detergent or solution such as chlorinated alkaline will target the film where bacteria can grow on surfaces. Next use a chemical agent like chlorine dioxide to clean all equipment.
4. Add Zorbifresh Active every 2-3 days to reduce odours and kill bacteria (including Staph aureus and E. coli).
5. When you see any signs of a calf becoming ill, immediately remove them from the pen and clean out all organic matter around them, so as to avoid contagion with others.
6. Make sure that everyone working with the calves (even the kids), wears gloves and changes them regularly.
As our tips have shown, the most important rule with calf pens is to keep them clean and dry. When a calf is healthy and happy its energy is not diverted into fighting illness, but instead into growing into a strong healthy milk producing cow. Talk to our friendly team about animal health for the calves on your farm.