Healthy Calves: Herd Productivity Starts Here

Now’s the time to lay the groundwork for a vigorous, high-producing herd:

  • It starts with building strong immunity to help protect young calves from infectious agents that can cause respiratory, digestive and other diseases.
  • Parasite control and scours management can help minimize roadblocks to healthy growth and weight gain.
  • A verified preconditioning program can help you deliver healthy calves that demand more at auction.

 Here are just a few things you can do to start your calves off right.

  • How can my calves build strong immunity to help fight off disease?

    Colostrum management and vaccination are important to help protect young calves from organisms that cause respiratory and digestive diseases. 

    Colostrum management:

    • Because the cow’s antibodies don’t cross the placenta during pregnancy, the calf relies on the antibodies provided in the dam’s colostrum
    • After four to six hours, the calf’s ability to absorb antibodies declines until 24 hours, when the window closes
    • Make sure calves start nursing as soon as possible after calving
    • As a rule of thumb, the calf should receive about 4 quarts of colostrum during the first eight to ten hours of life
    • Colostrum replacements may be necessary if maternal colostrum is not available or in short supply
    • To help cow herds produce better quality and quantity of colostrum, provide pregnancy-safe vaccinations and solid nutrition to maintain body condition scores of 5 or 6 before calving

    Calf vaccinations:

    • As material antibodies wane, vaccinations can help protect calves until their immune systems are fully developed
    • Vaccination protocols should be based on the disease risks in your area and the recommendations of your veterinarian
    • Common early vaccinations include those against:
      • Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR)
      • Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) Types 1 and 2, including BVDV Type 1b
      • Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV)
      • Mannheimia haemolytica
      • Parainfluenza 3 (Pl3)
      • Clostridium spp.
      • Pinkeye (Moraxella bovis)
  • What can I do to prevent parasitic freeloaders from slowing calf growth?

    Internal parasites can reduce weaning weights.1 To help your calves keep gaining, eliminate damaging internal and external parasites.

    Read More

  • There has to be a way to minimize calf scours outbreaks.

    Calf scours, or neonatal calf diarrhea, is a common source of sickness and death in calves under a month of age. Affected calves can fall behind in performance and never catch up, so early intervention, correction of dehydration and prevention are paramount.

    Common causes

    • Viruses: rotavirus, coronavirus, bovine viral diarrhea virus
    • Parasites: Cryptosporidium and coccidia
    • Bacteria: Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens
    • Other: Ingestion of more milk than calf can digest

    Clinical signs

    • Watery stools may be green, brown, yellow or gray, +/- blood and mucus
    • Weakness and depression
    • Loss of appetite
    • Dehydration


    • Work with your veterinarian to identify the cause, so proper treatment can be initiated
    • Analysis of fresh fecal samples and necropsies of dead calves can help determine the cause


    • Isolate sick calves and their dams
    • Replace fluid and electrolytes with oral treatments or intravenous fluids
    • Your veterinarian may recommend nutritional support
    • Provide warmth with deep bedding; shelter calves from wind, rain and snow
    • Depending on the cause, your veterinarian may recommend medications such as antibiotics


    • Ensure newborns receive adequate colostrum
    • Immunize the cow herd against enteric pathogens to help build calf immunity
    • Keep environment clean and free of fecal matter that can carry pathogens
    • Avoid overcrowding and minimize stress
    • Segregate calves by age to avoid exposure to pathogens from older cattle
  • Raise the healthier calves that attract local buyers.

    Industry research studies have shown an average net return from preconditioning, ranging from more than $25 to $33 per head.2,3 The Market Ready® Quality Feeder Calf Program is a convenient, verified program to help you deliver those healthy, high-performing calves buyers demand.

    Read More


Education and Resources


The Lasting Benefits of Preweaning Vaccinations 

Colostrum only provides temporary protection against infectious diseases. Vaccinating calves at 2 to 4 months of age can help safeguard their health during stressful times. 


One Persistently Infected Calf Can Wreak Havoc on Your Herd 

Calves exposed to the BVD virus in the womb remain infected, shedding the virus and exposing your herd for a lifetime.

Vaccinate Early for Better Calf Performance

Calves that experience summer pneumonia early can weigh dramatically less at weaning than their healthy counterparts. Find out why it pays to vaccinate calves before the stresses of weaning.

Beef Products

To help keep your cattle in top condition, you can rely on Boehringer lngelheim for a broad range of products, including:

To help keep your cattle in top condition, you can rely on Boehringer lngelheim for a broad range of products, including:

1Wohlgemuth K, Melancon JJ. Relationships between weaning weights of North Dakota beef calves and treatment of their dams with ivermectin. Agri-Practice. 1988;9:23-26.
2Donnell J, Ward C, Swigert S. Costs and benefits associated with preconditioning calves. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Bulletin AGEC-247, Oklahoma State University, 2007. Available at: Accessed Sept. 17, 2019.
3Seeger JT, Grotelueschen DM, Stokka GL and Sides GE. Comparison of the feedlot health, nutritional performance, carcass characteristics and economic value of unweaned beef calves with an unknown health history and weaned beef calves receiving various herd-of-origin health protocols. Bov Pract 2008:42(1);27–39.