Causes and costs of calf mortality in Colorado beef herds participating in the National Animal Health Monitoring System

T. E. Wittum From the Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Wittum, Salman, Mortimer) and Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences (Odde, King), Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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M. D. Salman From the Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Wittum, Salman, Mortimer) and Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences (Odde, King), Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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K. G. Odde From the Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Wittum, Salman, Mortimer) and Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences (Odde, King), Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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R. G. Mortimer From the Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Wittum, Salman, Mortimer) and Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences (Odde, King), Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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M. E. King From the Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Wittum, Salman, Mortimer) and Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences (Odde, King), Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Summary

Seventy-three Colorado cow/calf operations were monitored for calf mortality from birth to weaning as part of their participation in the National Animal Health Monitoring System. Producer-observed causes of calf mortality, and the costs associated with these deaths were obtained. The overall calf mortality during the study was 4.5%, with a total associated cost of $237,478. The mean cost per calf death was $216, of which $208 was attributed to the potential value of the calf and an additional $8 was for veterinary, drug, producer's labor, and carcass disposal expenses. The most commonly reported causes of calf mortality were dystocia (17.5%), stillbirth (12.4%), hypothermia (12.2%), diarrhea (11.5%), and respiratory infections (7.6%). These 5 disease conditions accounted for > 60% of all calf deaths. A cause was not determined for 19.7% of the calf deaths. Beef producers and veterinarians have the potential to decrease calf mortality and increase profits in cow/calf operations by implementing management strategies and herd health programs designed to decrease the number of calf deaths caused by these disease conditions.

Summary

Seventy-three Colorado cow/calf operations were monitored for calf mortality from birth to weaning as part of their participation in the National Animal Health Monitoring System. Producer-observed causes of calf mortality, and the costs associated with these deaths were obtained. The overall calf mortality during the study was 4.5%, with a total associated cost of $237,478. The mean cost per calf death was $216, of which $208 was attributed to the potential value of the calf and an additional $8 was for veterinary, drug, producer's labor, and carcass disposal expenses. The most commonly reported causes of calf mortality were dystocia (17.5%), stillbirth (12.4%), hypothermia (12.2%), diarrhea (11.5%), and respiratory infections (7.6%). These 5 disease conditions accounted for > 60% of all calf deaths. A cause was not determined for 19.7% of the calf deaths. Beef producers and veterinarians have the potential to decrease calf mortality and increase profits in cow/calf operations by implementing management strategies and herd health programs designed to decrease the number of calf deaths caused by these disease conditions.

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