UK dairy and beef producers concerned about calf health can now ask their vet for a detailed, score-based audit of their youngstock rearing system, thanks to the launch of a new checklist tool from MSD Animal Health Health

The comprehensive and interactive checklist – developed in conjunction with vets and nutritionists experienced in investigating youngstock management problems – helps practitioner and farmer work closely together to draw up a workable action plan to improve calf health.

“This new checklist-based tool explores, records and scores calf health performance across five core areas to identify the strengths and weaknesses of any rearing unit’s environment and processes,” said Kat Baxter, MSD animal health ruminant veterinary adviser.

“Working through a series of 10 questions within each core area – designed to tease out where a rearing unit is in terms of accepted best management practice – allows vet and farmer to quickly pinpoint any areas needing attention. What’s more, repeating the checklist every six or 12 months is a great way to keep things on track, allowing both parties to monitor progress against agreed targets,” she added.

Five steps to better calf health:

1. Set goals and measure

2. Implement good colostrum management and feeding protocols

3. Feed calves correctly

4. Maintain low infection pressure and vaccinate

5. Ensure a healthy rearing environment

Farmers interested in how they can use the new checklist to improve their youngstock rearing efficiency should contact their vet for further information.