Asked July 15, 2016, 1:43 AM EDT

Dear Expert,
I am a Dairy Consultant in Zimbabwe and recently my one client has, I believe SARA, in his young dairy calves.
Briefly, the rearing program is as follows:
1) Colostrum is fed immediately after birth, plus dipping the navel with tincture of iodine. Colostrum tests indicate colostrum is of high quality,
2) A balance calf starter is fed from day 1 along with fresh milk,
3) After day 5 approximately the calves are moved to a rearing area where they are fed milk and ad lib calf starter plus water,
4) Weaning takes place at 65 days of age.
Recently it has been observed that calves are eating soil from ant heaps in the paddocks and loose manure is fairly common???
A worm challenge is currently being verified, however, I feel the problem is SARA.
The calf starter formulation is based on soya bean meal, corn by-products such as germ meal and corn bran and cotton hulls as the main effective fibre minerals and vitamins.
5) The soil eating and loose manure continues after weaning for about a month or so.
If in your opinion SARA is the cause, monensin is available and can you please recommend an inclusion rate in the starter meal...or what other strategy can I use to rectify the problem..sodium bicarb????

Outside United States

4 Responses

How much milk are you feeding and how often are you feeding it? SARA in calves is often from feeding inconsistently, either the grain or milk. Calves should be fed 2 or 3 times per day. With a total of at least 2 gallons per day split evenly between feedings.

Dear Jeremy, many thanks for your response. To answer your question the Jersey calves get 2 litres and the Holsteins 3 litres twice a day. The problem here from your response is that I suspect the milk is not at the same temperature for each feeding and the time interval between feeds is variable. The calf stater meal is offered ad lib from day one and fresh meal is replaced every day. Thanks again for your help. How about feeding an additive to calves, although I resist this because if other practices are sound I feel additives are a waste of money. Regards, Rob

I agree that you should not need to feed an additive. some type of probiotic may help though? Anything that can be considered inconsistent in their feeding could cause problems. Ad lib grain is good, make sure there is an adequate amount of digestible fiber in the grain.

Thanks very much Jeremy....we tend to use cotton hulls here, ( 10% inclusion rate), for the source of digestible fibre in calf starter meals...we do not have alfalfa hay for example or any high quality hays to allow for options...Our natural veld grass is very poor quality and the hay rough in texture and if used I believe introduces an abrasive scratch factor prematurely for the still tender and developing rumen. We do not have access to soya hulls either???