Otten, N. D., Skarbye, A. P., Krogh, M. A. et al. 2023. Monitoring bovine dairy calf health and related risk factors in the first three months of rearing. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 65(1), 45.

Rearing replacement heifers is pivotal for the dairy industry and is associated with high input costs for the preweaned calves, due to their higher susceptibility to diseases. Ensuring calf health and viability calls for systematic approaches in order to mitigate the costs induced by managing sick calves and to ensure animal welfare. The objective of this study was to develop a systematic and feasible health-monitoring tool for bovine dairy calves based on repeated clinical observations and diagnostic results of calves at three time points; the 1st (T0), the 3rd (T1) and the 12th (T3) week of age. The study included observations from 77 dairy heifer calves in nine Danish commercial dairy herds. Immunisation status was assessed by serum Brix% at T0. Clinical scoring included gastrointestinal disease (GD) and respiratory disease (RD). The average daily weight gain (ADWG) was estimated from heart-girth measurements. Pathogen detection from nasal swabs and faecal samples were analysed for 16 respiratory and enteric pathogens by means of high-throughput real time-PCR. All measures obtained in each herd were visualised in a panel to follow the health status of each calf over time.

Animal Type