Calf Distinction Timeline- The Path to Health

Calf Distinction Timeline- The Path to Health

The gut microbiome is the Inside story to long term health of the calf. It is home to trillions of microbes, both good and bad, that impact calf health. A balanced microbiome is highly populated and diverse, keeps pathogens in check, aids in breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. Neonatal calves are highly susceptible to enteric infections, one of the major causes of calf death. Recent research has discovered that microbiome engineering of the gut, the mucosal immune system, and early dietary interventions can effectively reduce the susceptibility of calves to enteric infections while promoting growth. The microbiome is linked to brain function, lung health, liver health, and overall health of the calf. Achieving a mature microbiome as quickly as possible is paramount.


Birth or Arrival

Similar to humans, when the calf is born large amounts of lactobacillus from the birth canal help to colonize the digestive tract of the newborn calf. At birth both the immune system and the digestive tract of the calf are naïve and immature. These beneficial bacteria help to prepare the gut and immune system for proper development and function.

Many factors in the first few days of life can compromise the colonization of these beneficial microbes. Difficult birth, C-section, dirty environment, shipping, poor colostrum, etc. With the knowledge gained from recent research we are learning that these stressful events can be overcome by supporting proper microbial colonization and providing the necessary fuel for healthy cells in the gut.

Giving a calf Sync at birth, or upon arrival at the calf ranch helps to prevent illness by supporting colonization of beneficial microbes and by fueling enteric cell growth. Pathogens are kept at bay, and the immune system is primed for proper working order.


Milk Phase

As of late, a lot of emphasis has been put upon the importance of high-quality colostrum and even transition milk for the health and gut development of the calf. Another point that we should not overlook is that milk replacer is not created equal to whole milk.

Researchers have just touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the goodies found in colostrum and transition milk, and their role in the development of the immune system.  Although we know a lot about calf nutrition and the amounts of fat and protein needed to grow a healthy calf, there is still much that we do not know about milk components that may be affecting epigenetics and immune function. 

What we do know is that bottle fed calves, even those fed whole or waste milk, often have more health problems than calves raised on the dam. There are various reasons why a calf may be raised on a bottle; to allow a nutritious food product to be produced for human consumption, loss of the dam, refusal of the dam to nurse the calf, etc.

It’s up to us as calf raisers to use the most current research to do our best job in raising these calves in a manner that will help them fulfill their greatest genetic potential. Even in the event of needing to feed milk replacer, or waste milk containing antibiotics, if we focus on cultivating a healthy gut microbiome in our calves during the milk phase, we can combat many health challenges.

Surveillance combines the most up-to-date technology to bind calfhood pathogens, promote a healthy microbiome, encourage feed intake, and facilitate proper immune function in the calf.


Grain Phase

It is truly fascinating to me that when introduced to grain early on, bottle fed calves can develop a healthy functioning rumen in a fraction of the time compared to calves raised on the dam and eating forage can.

One very important factor in early rumen development is encouraging grain intake. The more grain a calf eats, the more volatile fatty acids are produced that can be used as energy for growth of the animal and proliferation of cells in the digestive system. A balanced microbiome will help in the digestion and conversion of feedstuffs to nutrients the animal can utilize.

TomaHawk is designed to keep calves eating through stressful events such as weaning and to promote a healthy gut microbiome to prevent dysbiosis that may result in acidosis and even bloating. TomaHawk also provides many other components to support proper immune function, lung health, and liver health.

At Calf Distinction/MicroBasics we believe that the producer should have options that include effective natural alternatives to conventional ionophores and antibiotics. Our product ingredients are researched and set us apart from others on the market in effectiveness and return on investment. You can find them in the Calf Distinction Store.


*Please always consult with your Veterinarian. The statements and products described on this page have not been evaluated by the USDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

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