98 Caring for calves, particularly when you buy calves from a number of sources, should be part of your written health and welfare plan. As calves are more susceptible to a number of diseases, good hygiene is essential, particularly with the equipment used artificially to rear calves.
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) Regulation 6(c), provides that a person responsible for calves confined for rearing and fattening must comply with the requirements set out in Schedule 4 of that legislation.
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) Schedule 4, Paragraphs 2 and 3, state that:
- all housed calves must be inspected by the person responsible for the calves at least twice a day
- calves which are kept outside must be inspected by the person responsible for the calves at least once a day
99 It is particularly important that you watch calves carefully for signs of diarrhoea or respiratory disease such as coughing or rapid or laboured breathing, both of which could spread rapidly. When you buy in calves, you should inspect them as soon as they arrive, before they come into contact with other calves on the farm. You need to assess their general health, paying particular attention to their posture, breathing and the condition of their nose, eyes, navel, anus, feet and legs.
100 After carefully inspecting any calves you have bought, you should rest them in comfortable conditions for a few hours and then give them a first feed of milk or other suitable liquid, such as electrolyte solution. Where practicable, you should keep them apart from other calves for long enough to prevent any possible cross-infection.
101 If you rear calves in a system where milk is provided by artificial means, you should closely monitor their feed intake. If calves have a reduced or slower feed intake, this is often an early sign of disease.
Sick and injured calves
In addition to the provisions laid down in Schedule 1, paragraph 5 of The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) Schedule 1, paragraph 6 states that:
Where necessary sick or injured animals must be isolated in suitable accommodation with, where appropriate, dry comfortable bedding.
102 You should isolate and treat calves if, for example, they have diarrhoea or pneumonia. Monitoring their temperature is a useful means of assessing their response to treatment. If the calves do not respond to treatment promptly or properly or these illnesses return, you need to get advice from a veterinary surgeon.
Feed, water and other substances
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) Schedule 4, Paragraph 9, states that:
Each calf must receive bovine colostrum as soon as possible after it is born and in any case within the first six hours of life.
Schedule 4, paragraph 10 states that:
(1) all calves must be provided with food which contains sufficient iron to ensure a blood haemoglobin level of at least 4.5mmol/litre.
(2) A minimum daily ration of fibrous food must be provided for each calf over two weeks old, the quantity being raised in line with the growth of the calf from a minimum of 100g at two weeks old to a minimum of 250g at 20 weeks old.
Schedule 4, paragraph 11 states that calves must not be muzzled.
Schedule 4, paragraph 12 states that:
(1) All calves must be fed at least twice a day.
(2) Where calves are housed in a group and do not have continuous access to feed, or are not fed by an automatic feeding system, each calf must have access to food at the same time as the others in the feeding group.
Schedule 4, paragraph 13 states that:
(1) All calves over two weeks of age must be provided with a sufficient quantity of fresh drinking water each day or be able to satisfy their fluid intake needs by drinking other liquids.
(2) Calves must be provided with fresh drinking water at all times -
(a) in hot weather conditions, or
(b) when they are ill.
103 Bovine colostrum is essential to protect the calf against infectious disease. Ideally calves should be left with their dam for at least 12 and preferably 24 hours after birth. It is recommended that the calf should continue to receive colostrum from its mother for the first three days of life. Allowing the calf to suckle naturally may be the best way to make sure that it gets enough colostrum. However, you should supervise carefully and ensure that the udder is clean before the calf sucks. If the calf is unable to suck, colostrum should be given by a suitably trained person using a stomach tube. When there is any doubt about the quantity or quality of colostrum that is available from the cow, you should give it to the calf by teat feeder or stomach tube from another source within six hours of its birth. A store of frozen or some other form of colostrum should be kept on the farm for use in emergencies.
104 Removing the calf earlier than 12-24 hours after birth should only be done for disease control purposes, under the advice of a veterinary surgeon and the protocol should be recorded in the health and welfare plan. These calves should still be fed colostrum. In some circumstances, such as in the control of Johne's disease, the use of pooled colostrum may promote the transfer of infection. In such cases, to prevent the risk of the spread of infection in the herd, you should ensure that each calf receives colostrum only from its dam or if this is not possible, only from a single animal.
105 You can increase the value of colostrum by specific vaccination of the cow or colostrum donor. In high-yielding dairy cows, you may find that the concentration of antibodies in colostrum is diluted. You should get advice from your veterinary surgeon on ways to improve colostrum to protect calves against infectious diseases.
106 You should not offer milk from cows treated with antibiotics or those being treated for mastitis to calves fed on whole milk.
107 In artificial calf-rearing systems, it is better for the calf to drink from, or be able to reach a dummy teat. Fresh water should be available in the pen. All calves should receive liquid food every day during their first four weeks of life and, in any case, until they are eating enough solid food.
108 When calves are put on unlimited milk-feeding diets, you should make sure that they have enough teats to avoid undue competition and watch them carefully to check that they are all feeding properly. You should take the same care when you introduce solid food, as and when the calves want it.
109 You should wean suckler calves so that it causes as little stress as possible to both cows and calves. You should take particular care of newly-weaned suckling calves and keep them in groups of familiar animals to avoid fighting and cross-contamination. If you have to mix some of the animals, to minimise disease you should make sure that the environment does not stress the calves.
110 You should avoid the routine early weaning of suckled beef calves (at two to three months old) as it can increase the post weaning growth check and thus reduce their resistance to disease. Weaned calves must always have access to fresh forage and weaner mix. You should replace the feed each day so that the food is fresh and appetising. Weaning at between six and nine months of age is recommended, although earlier weaning is acceptable for suckler calves where the cow's health or body condition is poor.
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) Schedule 4, paragraph 1 states that:
(1) A calf must not be confined in an individual stall or pen after the age of 8 weeks unless a veterinary surgeon certifies that its health or behaviour requires it to be isolated in order to receive treatment.
(2) The width of any individual stall or pen for a calf must be at least equal to the height of the calf at the withers, measured in the standing position, and the length must be at least equal to the body length of the calf, measured from the tip of the nose to the caudal edge of the tuber ischii (pin bone), multiplied by 1.1.
(3) Individual stalls or pens for calves (except for those isolating sick animals) must have perforated walls which allow calves to have direct visual and tactile contact.
(4) For calves kept in groups, the unobstructed space allowance available to each calf must be:
- at least 1.5m² for each calf with a live weight of less than 150 kg
- at least 2m² for each calf with a live weight of 150 kg or more but less than 200 kg
- at least 3m² for each calf with a live weight of 200 kg or more
(5) Sub-paragraphs (1) to (4) do not apply to:
(a) holdings with fewer than 6 calves.
(b) calves kept with their mothers for suckling.
(6) each calf must be able to stand up, turn around, lie down, rest and groom itself without hindrance.
(7) each calf that is kept on a holding on which 2 or more calves are kept must be able to see at least one other calf.
(8) sub-paragraph (7) above does not apply to any calf that is kept in isolation on a holding on veterinary advice.
(9) in calculating the number of calves being kept on a holding for the purposes of sub-paragraph (7), no account is to be taken of any calf that is being kept in isolation on that holding on veterinary advice.
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I 2010 No. 388), Schedule 4, paragraph 4 states that:
(1) Calves must not be tethered, with the exception of group-housed calves which may be tethered for a period of not more than one hour when being fed milk or milk substitute.
(2) Only tethers designed not to cause pain or injury to the calves may be used and they must be inspected regularly and adjusted as necessary to ensure a comfortable fit.
(3) Only tethers designed to avoid the risk of strangulation or pain or injury and which allow the calf to stand up, turn around, lie down, rest and groom itself without hindrance may be used.
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I 2010 No. 388), Schedule 4, paragraph 5 states that:
Where calves are kept in an artificially lit building then, subject to paragraphs 14 and 16 of Schedule 1, artificial lighting must be provided for a period at least equivalent to the period of natural light normally available between 9.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m.
Cleansing and disinfection
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I 2010 No. 388), Schedule 4, paragraph 6 states that:
- housing, stalls, pens, equipment and utensils used for calves must be properly cleaned and disinfected to prevent cross-infection and the build-up of disease-carrying organisms.
- faeces, urine and uneaten or spilt food must be removed as often as necessary to minimise smell and to avoid attracting flies or rodents.
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I 2010 No. 388), Schedule 4, paragraph 7 states that:
Where calves are kept in a building, floors must:
- be smooth but not slippery so as to prevent injury to the calves
- be so designed as not to cause injury or suffering to calves standing or lying on them
- be suitable for the size and weight of the calves
- form a rigid, even and stable surface
Bedding and lying area
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I 2010 No. 388), Schedule 4, paragraph 8 states that:
- all calves must be provided with appropriate well-maintained bedding
- all calves must be kept on, or at all times have access to, a lying area which is clean, comfortable and does not adversely affect the calves and is well drained
- all housed calves and calves kept in temporary structures must be kept on, or at all times have access to, a lying area which is well-maintained with dry bedding
111 Housed calves need an environment that is:
- well drained
- well bedded
- well ventilated
- draught free
The calves must have enough space for each of them to lie down comfortably. Young calves are particularly susceptible to pneumonia so good ventilation is essential. Ventilation should not be restricted to try and raise the air temperature.
112 Until they are weaned, you should keep housed calves in small groups to:
- make it easier for you to inspect them
- limit the spread of disease
When calves are fed by natural suckling, other penning arrangements may be satisfactory.
113 You should not put newborn and young calves on totally slatted floors. Suitable bedding should always be provided.
Moving and selling calves
Paragraph 2 of Chapter I of Annex I of Council Regulation ( EC) No. 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations states that:
Animals that are injured or that present physiological weaknesses or pathological process shall not be considered fit for transport and in particular if:
- they are new-born mammals in which the navel has not completely healed
- they are calves of not less than 10 days of age unless they are transported less than 100 km
The Welfare of Animals at Market Order 1990 (S.I. 1990 No. 2627) Article 14, states that:
- no person shall bring to a market a calf which is less than seven days old or which has an unhealed navel
- no person shall bring to a market a calf which has been brought to a market on more than one occasion in the previous 28 days
- it shall be the duty of the owner of any calf in a market on any day, or of his duly authorised agent, to remove it from the market within four hours of the time when the last sale by auction of a calf has taken place on that day
- in this article "calf" means a bovine animal under 12 weeks of age
114 To reduce the risk of disease, wherever possible, you should make arrangements to transfer the calves directly from farm to farm rather than through a market.
115 Ideally, young calves reared without their mothers, should receive human contact, preferably from the same stock-keeper.
Under the Protection of Animals (Anaesthetics) Act 1954, as amended, it is an offence to castrate calves which have reached two months of age without the use of an anaesthetic. Furthermore, the use of a rubber ring or other device, to restrict the flow of blood to the scrotum, is only permitted without an anaesthetic if the device is applied during the first week of life.
Under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, as amended, only a veterinary surgeon may castrate a calf which has reached the age of two months.
116 Stock-keepers should consider carefully whether castration is necessary. If it is necessary, there are three methods which can be used to castrate calves:
- a rubber ring or other device which can only be used in the first seven days of life, by a trained and competent stock-keeper, to restrict the flow of blood to the scrotum
- bloodless castration, by a trained and competent stock-keeper, by crushing the spermatic cords of calves less than two months old, with a burdizzo
- castration by a veterinary surgeon, using an anaesthetic
Disbudding and dehorning
Under The Protection of Animals (Anaesthetics) Act 1954, as amended, it is an offence to disbud calves or dehorn any cattle without the use of an anaesthetic other than when chemical cauterisation is used. Chemical cauterisation may only be used during the first week of life.
117 Disbudding means removing the horn buds in calves, before any horn material can be seen. It is preferable to dehorning as it is less stressful to the animal. Disbudding should take place before calves are two months old and ideally as soon as you can start to see the horn bud. It is strongly recommended that chemical cauterisation should not be used. Disbudding should only be carried out with a heated iron, under local anaesthetic, by a trained and competent stock-keeper.
118 Dehorning should not be a routine procedure. It involves cutting or sawing horn and other sensitive tissues under local anaesthetic. Ideally, a veterinary surgeon should do it, and only if it is necessary for the herd's welfare. It should not be a routine procedure. If you feel that dehorning is necessary, it should be done in spring or autumn to avoid flies or frosts. Following the procedure, the animal should be given appropriate pain relief. You should protect the wound from contamination by such things as grass seeds, hay or silage until the hole has scabbed over. You should put hay racks at a level which reduces the risk of food falling onto the head and contaminating the wound.
119 The person doing the disbudding or dehorning should always allow enough time for the anaesthetic to numb the area before they begin. They should test this by pricking the skin in the area to see whether the animal can still feel anything around the horn bud or the base of the horn.
Under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, as amended, only a veterinary surgeon may remove a supernumerary teat from a calf which has reached three months of age.
The Protection of Animals (Anaesthetics) Act 1954 makes it an offence to remove a supernumerary teat from a calf which has reached three months of age without the use of an anaesthetic.
120 If an animal has supernumerary teats ( i.e. too many teats) and the extra ones are to be removed the operation should be done at an early age. Anyone carrying out the procedure should be suitably trained and competent. Once the local anaesthetic has numbed the area and antiseptic has been applied, the supernumerary teats should be removed with clean, sharp scissors. Any bleeding should be stopped immediately.
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