Thousands of calves die every year in our country. Each lost calf causes great harm to both the farms and the country's economy. Stating that increasing calf deaths threaten the future of the dairy industry and dairy farming, Trouw Nutrition Turkey's Technical Sales Manager Hakan Çiftçi, shared the underlying causes of calf losses and what needs to be done to prevent these deaths.
Calves, the most sensitive of farm animals, are of critical importance for the future of dairy industry and dairy farming in our country. Unfortunately, thousands of calves die every year in Turkey due to various reasons. Although calf mortality rates vary according to regions and businesses in our country, it is known to be between 10 and 15 percent. A study* prepared by taking into account TURKSTAT figures reveals that approximately 921 thousand calves died in 2020. Considering the cost items such as the feeding process, veterinary expenses and labor utilized for a calf, each lost calf greatly damages the business and the national economy.
WRONG MANAGEMENT IS LEADING CAUSE OF CALF LOSSES
Trouw Nutrition Turkey's Technical Sales Manager Hakan Çiftçi said that calf losses must be considered not only as a decrease in the number of calves, but also as a threat to the future of the dairy industry and dairy farming and added: “Especially considering the food crisis that has increased recently, calf losses appear as a crucial strategic risk. Mismanagement is one of the main causes of these losses. Calfing processes are not managed properly and hygienically. As a result of mistakes made during birth, calves die due to diseases such as very intense diarrhea and pneumonia, mostly in the first two weeks after birth. Another point that is missed is that the correct animal feeding methods are not applied. As we try to express at every opportunity, calves do not have an immune system when they are born. In order to support this, they need to consume colostrum with a certain quality standard and in appropriate amounts. However, unfortunately, management processes related to giving high-quality and sufficient amount of colostrum are still not carried out in some enterprises in our country. In feeding with milk, giving the milk to the calves without pasteurization; and in feeding with milk or formula, feeding below the daily needs of the calves and using waste milk in feeding are among the most common mistakes in farms today. In this case, the calves, which become more sensitive to external factors, lose their lives due to diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia at a high rate. Moreover, shelters lacking the appropriate criteria and hygiene conditions, mistakes made in equipment management, and preventive medicine practices also cause calf deaths.
HYGIENE AND SANITATION PRINCIPLES MUST BE OBSERVED
Hakan Çiftçi shared what needs to be done in order to prevent calf losses and said, “First of all, the birth areas have to be sterile and clear of contamination risk. Calf shelters must be in a hygienic and sheltered location against adverse weather conditions. In order to support the immune system of the calf within the first 2 hours after birth, calves must be fed with at least 4 liters of high-quality colostrum and a minimum of 2 liters of high-quality colostrum must be given every 8 hours within 48 hours. The feeding processes of the calves must also be carried out in accordance with the principles of hygiene and sanitation. It is also of great importance to clean the equipment used very carefully after each use and to make sure that the products used in feeding are healthy materials that do not contain disease agents. At this point, it is very important for the businesses that carry out the milk feeding process to pasteurize the milk before giving it to calves and reduce the presence of possible pathogens to acceptable levels.”
Çiftçi shared the solutions they offer to farms at Trouw Nutrition as follows: “With our LifeStart concept, which we have implemented as an innovative solution with our aim to contribute to increasing the average productivity of animals, we are maximizing the genetic potential of calves by improving the early-term nutrition and production performance of calves with scientific methods. Calf food and feed included in the LifeStart concept, which we have developed with a focus on sustainable livestock, play an active role in their healthy development and high efficiency and performance. For our businesses that do not have a pasteurization system or where the calf needs cannot be fully met, we recommend our milk replacer products Sprayfo and Milkivit groups, which we have developed within the LifeStart concept. We continue to contribute to the efficient continuity of tissue, organ and rumen development of calves right after the feeding period with milk or formula, with our Golden Calf calf feed until the sixth month. Considering different feeding models and operational risks, our effective solutions in our animal health product group will also be included in our portfolio in the forthcoming months.”