Keeping crypto under control

The Hicks’ calf shed.

Adding a final product appears to have been the last piece in Teresa Hicks’ puzzle to rid her calf sheds of cryptosporidium (crypto) and rotavirus.

Teresa and her fiancé Darren Sagrera calve 350 Jersey cows in a tight nine-week autumn window on the property they sharefarm with Teresa’s parents, Jack and Christine, at Dederang in the Kiewa Valley.

They no longer send any calves to the bobby calf market, so their calf rearing facility — which historically catered for 70 calves — is now housing every calf born.

A portion of the herd is AI-ed to sexed semen for herd replacements. The balance is joined to Red Angus. Teresa says the resulting beef-cross calves have been worth the work in terms of the return.

However, the additional calf numbers within a tight calving time frame have also allowed greater opportunity for disease outbreaks.

Teresa said they had made a number of management changes to protect their cows and their calves at calving. The most recent one included incorporating Calf-Safe into their calf shed hygiene regime.

Calf-Safe is an organic-certified Australian-made biocide derived from 100 per cent botanical extract. It is rated up to the strength of a hospital grade disinfectant.

Teresa said it was an easy decision because it could be safely used on all surfaces with the calves in the pens, in addition to being biodegradable, residue-free, NASAA-certified [National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia] for organic production, effective against a broad range of pathogens, with a five-year shelf life and a pleasant citrus smell.

“Every three days, I put my Calf-Safe into a battery powered backpack sprayer and go and spray all the pens and the feeders,” Teresa said.

“I love it. It has a really nice smell, and I don’t have to worry about the calves being around it when I’m using it.

“We used to have a lot of issues with crypto and rotavirus in the past. But this year, we’ve had none, and we’ve calved 250 cows so far.

“We’ve made a number of management changes over the last few years, and I’m sure all that preventative care is contributing to the bigger picture.

“But this is the first season with Calf-Safe, and this is the first season we’ve had no crypto so far.”

Calf-Safe is available from rural merchandise stores.