Calf / Heifer Survivability

Why is it measured?

In the UK, 8% of calves are stillborn, 15% of live heifers never reach their first lactation and of those that do, 20% will not survive until their second lactation. Common reasons for this include infectious diseases (particularly scour & pneumonia), congenital abnormalities, injuries, parasite burdens, difficult calvings and metabolic imbalances. All these have the potential to negatively affect welfare and result in significant financial costs through treatment, reduced growth rates, labour and losses. Lower mortality rates can be achieved by avoiding ill health, through good stockmanship, suitable housing/bedding, adequate nutrition, biosecurity and appropriate vaccination protocols. Sufficient colostrum intake, navel dipping and close observation are all key in avoiding calf losses whilst parasite control, good stock handling, good nutrition and appropriate selection of service bulls is important in ensuring heifers go on to become part of the dairy herd.

How to assess and score using the AssureWel measure

 10. Calf / Heifer Survivability                                                                                                                        Records
Record the number of losses per 100 cows calved (for the previous 12 months) for the following categories:

a) 0 - 24hrs - all calves (including stillborn)
b) 24 hrs - 42 days - all calves
c) 42 days - 1st calving - dairy heifers
d) 1st calving - 2nd calving - dairy heifers.

  1. Mobility
  2. Body condition
  3. Cleanliness   
  4. Hair loss, lesions 
  5. Swellings
  6. Broken tails    
  7. Response to stockperson
  8. Cows needing further care
  9. Mastitis
  10. Calf/Heifer survivability
  11. Cull and Casualty Cows