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The Bob Veal Calf Concern

Jerry Bertoldo, Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

March 1, 2013
The Bob Veal Calf Concern

Bull calves in the dairy business are most often a topic that producers would rather not think about. The financial returns from selling them are usually low. There are unavoidable labor costs in their care. The sooner they leave the farm the better is the usual mantra. Too many of these critters become bob veal - early slaughtered calves with minimal economic value. Farmers are reluctant to put more time and effort into insuring a strong and healthy calf that has a good chance of entering a veal raising operation. This means holding on to these calves for some extra days risking the chance of scours or worse yet death. Veal managers do not want light, less vigorous and very young bull calves for fear of high loss rates as well. Experience tells them that larger and more active calves will do better and result in lower mortality rates and better feed conversion.

There has been another issue creeping onto the scene, that of antibiotic residues in bob veal. Few people are bold enough to think that treating a young calf directly with injectable antibiotics will not result in detectable tissue levels if that animal enters the food chain within a few days. The problem is generally not from injectable products, but from oral scour medications, medicated milk replacers and more rarely colostrum containing antibiotics. Neomycin has been the most common culprit.

Neomycin and tetracycline have both been included in some scour medications and milk replacers for many years. Labeling of these scour treatments can be misleading as to withdrawal times. Medicated milk replacers do not contain treatment levels of these antibiotics, but are formulated for use in heifer calves not calves destined for bob veal. Colostrum from cows treated with oil based dry treatments is most likely to carry residues of significance to the newborn calf. Dry treating less than the labeled days pre-calving, double tubing or treating a slack quarter can result in higher than expected first milking antibiotic levels.
Holding out milk on fresh cows according to the labeled recommendations on dry treatment and not feeding it to bull calves is an extra measure of safety. The vast majority of colostrum will not cause an issue, however. Feeding heifer colostrum to bull calves is a failsafe way of preventing colostrum based problems provided that the practice of dry treating springers is not in place.











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Upcoming Events

BQA in a Day, Beef Quality Assurance Workshop, Albion

October 25, 2014
10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Albion, NY

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Calf Management - Dairy Skills Training

October 28 - November 8, 2014

Worried about respiratory issues or colostrum quality may be affecting your calf program? It's not to late to sign up for the Calf Management Course! Sessions to be held in Warsaw and Canandaigua.

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NY Veterans in Agriculture Summit

November 6, 2014
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Syracuse, NY

Are you a veteran farming in New York State, or an organization serving farmer veterans?  The Cornell Small Farms Program is pleased to announce an interactive meeting just for you!

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October is BQA Month!

Attention: Beef Producers

Get BQA Certified & Qualify for a Chance to Win $250 of BI Animal Health Products!

Producers who certify or recertify during the BQA Month promotion will be entered in a drawing for a Grand Prize $250 gift certificate for Boehringer Ingelheim animal health products and additional prizes of $10 gift certificates for two 50lb bags of FrameWork Mineral courtesy of Kent Feeds. In addition, every producer attending BQA training during the BQA month promotion will receive a coupon toward Merial animal health products. Check out our Upcoming Events to the right for trainings in the region, or go to to find them around the state. 

2014 Cornell Field Crop Guidelines Available

The 2014 edition of the Cornell Integrated Field Crop Management Guidelines is available. The Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management provides up-to-date field crop production and pest management information for New York State. It has been designed as a practical guide for field crop producers, crop consultants, pesticide dealers, and others who advise field crop producers. Crops included in this Guide include field corn, forages, small grains, and soybeans. The cost of this guide is $25 plus shipping. You can order this publication, or other Cornell Guidelines, through Cornell Copperative Extension offices or from the Cornell Store at Cornell University at 800-624-4080.

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