Calf Health Benchmarks

From Dairy Calf & Heifer Association https://calfandheifer.org/

From Birth to 6 Months of Age

Mortality

A. Given that some calves are born with a heartbeat and breathing, yet die not long after birth, the age of 24 hours shall be used to distinguish between "dead-on-arrival” (stillbirth) and "calf mortality."

B. All newborn calves should be placed in an environment that will be safe from adult animals and adult diseases.

C. Every newborn calf should receive care to its navel to control infection.

D. Target mortality rates are:

  1. 24 hrs to 60 days of age: < 5%
  2. 61 to 120 days of age: < 2%
  3. 121-180 days of age: < 1%

Morbidity

A. Defining scours as a case of diarrhea which requires any intervention for more than 24 hours, target morbidity rates are:

  1. 24 hrs to 60 days of age: < 25%
  2. 61 to 120 days of age: < 2%
  3. 121 to 180 days of age: < 1%

B. Defining pneumonia as a case of respiratory disease which requires individual animal treatment with an antibiotic (does not include use of feed-grade medication fed with regular ration), target morbidity rates are:

  1. 24 hrs to 60 days of age: < 10%
  2. 61 to 120 days of age: < 15%
  3. 121 to 180 days of age: < 2%

Growth Rates

A. Target growth rate standards for Holstein calves are:

  1. 24 hours to 60 days of age: Double birth weight
  2.  61 to 120 days of age: 2.2 lbs. average daily gain
  3. 121 to 180 days of age: 2.0 lbs. average daily gain

6 Months to Freshening

Mortality

A. Given calves that are healthy without morbidity from earlier age, total death loss from all conditions, but primarily pneumonia, should be:

  1. 6 to 12 months of age: <1%
  2. 12 months to freshening: <0.5%

Morbidity

A. Defining pneumonia as a case of respiratory disease which requires individual animal treatment with an antibiotic (does not include use of feed-grade medication fed with regular ration), target morbidity rates are:

  1. 6 to 12 months of age: <3%
  2. 12 months to freshening: <1%

B. Target rates for morbidity (disease condition which requires treatment) from all other causes, including pinkeye, mastitis, heel warts, diarrhea, bloat, BVD, hardware disease and accidental injury are:

  1. 6 to 12 months of age: <4%
  2. 12 months to freshening: <2%

Growth Rate and Nutrition

A. Target growth rate is 1.7 to 2.0 lbs. average daily gain. Weigh checks should be performed routinely; ideally, at least every three months.

B. Total ration protein content should be:

  1. 6 to 9 months of age: 15-16%
  2. 9 to 13 months of age: 14-15%
  3. 13 months of age to freshening: 13.5-14%

C. By 13 to 15 months of age, strive to achieve:

  1. Weight of 825 to 900 pounds
  2. Hip height of >50 inches
  3. Wither height of >48 inches [Or 55% of the weight of mature cows in the herd]

F. Target weight immediately precalving is 1,350 pounds (or 85% of the weight of full-term, pregnant, mature cows in the herd).

G. Target body condition score at freshening is 3.5 (on a 5-point scale).

Share this: