A healthy calf is a priority at the farm. Veal calves have special animal health needs as young calves have not developed a strong defense system and are more prone to challenges associated with stress. By working with the farm veterinarian to create a sound herd health program in conjunction with providing proper nutrition, access to water, and a safe and comfortable environment, farmers can prevent disease, and provide the best opportunity for timely diagnosis and response to any herd health challenge.
Veal farmers have an ethical obligation to provide each animal with appropriate quality care through each stage of life. This is best achieved by establishing on-farm programs and training that seek to maximize animal health while minimizing stress and disease. Timely and appropriate response to treating sickness or disease is important. Veal farmers work directly with a veterinarian to develop a comprehensive herd-health program. This enables veal farmers to provide quality animal care, prevent disease and determine the best option for addressing any animal health concern.
To diagnose, treat and manage herd health, farmers establish a veterinarian/client/patient relationship (VCPR) with a licensed veterinarian. A valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship is one in which:
- A veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of (an) animal(s) and the need for medical treatment, and the client (the owner of the animal or animals or other caretaker) has agreed to follow the instructions of the veterinarian;
- There is sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) by the veterinarian to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal(s); and
- The practicing veterinarian is readily available for follow-up in case of adverse reactions or failure of the regimen of therapy. Such a relationship can exist only when the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s).
Best Practices for Calf Care
Most dairy farmers might not think of themselves as playing a key role in the veal industry, but they do. The efforts of dairymen with new born calves that enter the veal market are significant. Veterinarian, Dr. Marissa Hake, works exclusively with milk-fed veal calves, and offers best practices for calf care. Hake says the same principles for heifer calf care also apply to calves that are headed to the beef or veal markets.