Minimizing Calf Losses
Calving can be a rewarding time, with each new birth helping justify the time, effort, and financial inputs invested in the cowherd. But unacceptably high – and possibly preventable – death loss among calves can be economically devastating.
Nationwide, calf death losses run an average of 5-7%, with similar patterns emerging in studies done in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, and other states. USDA numbers estimate the total number of preweaning deaths near 2.7 million per year, with a value of nearly one billion dollars annually. One study showed that these ‘typical’ losses equated to taking 35 pounds off of each calf sold at weaning. The greatest concern, of course, is a jump in the death rate; a herd with a serious scouring problem, for example, can lose half their calf crop.