The Healthy Calf Podcast series is designed to help Ontario dairy and veal producers make informed decisions about youngstock health and welfare, with a focus on taking a more proactive approach to reduce disease and improve performance.

Ensuring umbilical health in calves

Anyone involved in calf care is likely familiar with identifying and treating common calfhood diseases such as diarrhea and respiratory disease, but how many are monitoring umbilical health? Umbilical infections can occur quite commonly in young calves and the effect if left untreated can be significant. Learn more about umbilical health in calves with Dr. Dave Renaud, a veterinarian and researcher from the Ontario Veterinary College. Listen as he discusses what we know and what research is currently being conducted on the topic in this Podcast.

Managing calves to prevent disease

Being proactive in preventing calf diseases is the best way to reduce the economic losses associated with reduced growth and performance, treatment costs, and calf loss. Identifying early signs of common calfhood diseases such as respiratory disease, diarrhea, and umbilical infections can be a challenge as symptoms can be subtle.

Developing a strategy employed by you and your staff to monitor and intervene with treatment as soon as possible can help to reduce the impact these diseases can have on your herd. Learn more about calf management strategies that are effective at preventing disease with Dr. Dave Renaud, a veterinarian and calf health expert and researcher at the Ontario Veterinary College, in this Podcast.

Salmonella Dublin | An emerging disease in Ontario

Salmonella Dublin (S. Dublin) is a multi-drug resistant bacteria that causes respiratory disease and increased rates of mortality in both dairy and veal calves. This disease has only recently been identified in Ontario. It is being found on dairies and veal operations across Ontario, and occurs at a particularly high rate within veal operations due to the nature of purchase and transfer of calves within facilities. Learn more about how producers can prevent, identify, and control S. Dublin on their farms in this Podcast with Dr. Cynthia Miltenburg, lead veterinarian in the Animal Health and Welfare Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. She has been involved in monitoring the spread of this disease within Ontario.

Maximizing the value of your male dairy calves

Calves that are destined for the veal industry are considered a co-product of Canada’s dairy industry. Because of this, they face a unique set of challenges early in life that can have an impact on their health and welfare in their transition from the dairy to the veal operation. Learn more in this Podcast with Kendra Keels of Veal Farmers of Ontario and the Canadian Veal Association, and Dr. Dave Renaud, an Ontario veterinarian and researcher from the Ontario Veterinary College, as they discuss how producers can optimize animal health and improve the value of male dairy calves.

Is abnormal your new normal?

All producers strive to provide the best care for their animals, but disease is inevitable. When outbreaks do occur, managing and providing the best care for all animals can be an overwhelming task that can have serious consequences on the mental health of herdspeople. Ensuring that protocol drift does not occur, and that all staff members are invested in calf health and welfare can have a huge impact on the overall health and performance of youngstock. Staff training and employing best management practices early on by establishing a high-quality workplace culture can help empower employees to continuously improve calf health on your farm. Learn more in this Podcast with Dr. Steve Roche, an epidemiologist and animal health and welfare researcher, as he discusses how farm staff attitude, perceptions, and motivation can influence animal health.

Antimicrobial use in calves

Antimicrobial use is a significant issue involving both human and animal health. No new antibiotics are being developed for use in animals, and what is currently available is all that there will be to fight infection for the foreseeable future. Responsible and judicious use of the antibiotics we have available to us will help to ensure they remain effective in treating the diseases we need them for. Learn more in this Podcast with Dr. Diego Gomez, a veterinarian and researcher from the Ontario Veterinary College, as he discusses how producers can choose the most appropriate medication for the disease they are dealing with to ensure good antimicrobial stewardship for animal health and preservation of one of the most important tools we have left in our toolbox.

Ventilating your calf barn

Frequent air exchanges, appropriate stocking density, and management of drafts are of the utmost importance for ensuring adequate ventilation to prevent respiratory disease in calves. Producers can struggle with the concept of how to balance all of these factors, and the metrics for ensuring excellent ventilation can differ from farm-to-farm. Learn more about ventilation for calf housing systems and how to optimize it with Harold House, an engineer with Dairy Logix, in this Podcast.

Transportation regulations and their impact on Ontario dairy and veal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has recently updated their rules and regulations on humane transport of livestock. Included in this update are changes to the conditions and length of time youngstock can be shipped. Because of this, we want dairy and veal producers to be familiar with the new regulations to ensure they are in compliance and doing everything they can do to achieve optimal health and welfare of their cattle throughout their journey. Learn more in this Podcast with Dr. Heather Brown, National Manager at the CFIA, as she discusses these new rules and regulations, what producers need to know, and how they’ll impact the industry moving forward.

Herd health includes calf health

Typically, veterinarians visit dairy herds on a routine basis for herd health. This visit usually includes pregnancy checks and assessments of sick cows as well as addressing any concerns a farmer may have. Calf health is often not a high priority unless a producer identifies a problem. Why is this the case? Youngstock are an important part of the herd as future dairy replacements. Their health and welfare from day one can have an impact on their future performance, so why are we not paying closer attention? Including an evaluation of calf health as part of your routine herd health visits can help to prevent disease and optimize health and performance which will ultimately impact their future productivity. Learn more in this Podcast with Dr. Kristen Edwards, as she discusses incorporating calves into routine herd health visits, and the outcomes they have appreciated since doing this.

The Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Cattle

Canada is fortunate to have an evidence-based standard of care for every farmed species. This ensures animal health and welfare for food-producing animals, and gives a basis for consumer quality assurance programs. For cattle species, a Code of Practice exists for dairy, beef, and veal cattle, and outlines topics such as housing, handling, transportation, and pain mitigation for certain procedures. Learn more about the Codes of Practice in this Podcast with Dr. Derek Haley.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of the Veal Farmers of Ontario. Animal care, health and welfare remain a top priority for all veal cattle farmers and as such Veal Farmers of Ontario supports the 2017 update of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Veal Cattle, developed through the National Farm Animal Care Council’s process. Veal Farmers of Ontario are members of the Canadian Veal Association, which is a proud member of the National Farm Animal Care Council.