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Selective Therapy of High-Risk Calves
As mentioned in the section Selecting the Right Calf, there are several parameters that increase the risk for calves to develop disease. Ideally, we should aim to prevent these high-risk calves from entering the facility through selective purchasing.
Performing a brief exam on each calf entering the facility will help to identify calves that are at high risk of experiencing disease. These high-risk calves could be selectively treated with antimicrobials or supportive therapy (such as oral electrolytes or anti-inflammatory medications) to improve their health and welfare.
What Is a High-Risk Calf?
Calves with the following are at high risk of developing disease:
- Low body weight
- High level of dehydration
- Presence of an enlarged umbilicus with heat, swelling, and pain
- Presence of diarrhea
- Presence of a sunken flank
- Certain source dairy farms
Unfortunately, there is not a large body of evidence on how these calves should be handled at arrival.
It is best to work with your veterinarian to develop a plan on how to manage these high-risk calves in your facilities.