Young calves are highly vulnerable and are often exposed to many stresses – they have been taken off their mother and placed in an environment where there are usually many more pathogens. Their immune systems are almost non-existent and their digestive systems are immature and easily upset.
The main health issues are scours – nutritional or infectious (e.g. Cryptosporidia, Rotavirus, Salmonella). All can affect the whole calf shed. Scouring calves can dehydrate rapidly and this can result in significant calf losses as well as time spent nursing sick calves. Having an animal health plan will mean that scours are detected, diagnosed and treated early. Other pre-weaning issues are navel infections and pneumonia and both can become significant problems for individual calves if they are not detected early.