Acta Vet. Brno 2009, 78: 47-56

Health Status of Beef Cows and their Calves in the Czech Republic

Petr Slavík1, Josef Illek2, Michal Brix, Lucie Musilová1, Radko Rajmon1, Petra Klabanová1, František Jílek1

1Department of Veterinary Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic
2Clinic of Ruminant Diseases, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Czech Republic

Received January 25, 2008
Accepted December 15, 2008

The objective of this study was to assess the health status and the most common health problems occurring in beef cattle in the Czech Republic. Thirty five beef herds of different breeds were monitored from 1 January to 31 December 2006. The health status of 4872 animals (2601 cows and 2271 of their calves) was analyzed. Herds of up to 50 cows and those over 50 cows were evaluated both separately and together. Farm management data were collected by means of a questionnaire completed by the farmers. Both geographic and herd characteristics were evaluated, as well as the course of calving, mortality and morbidity in calves, and disease occurrence in cows. Calving was unassisted in about 80% of the cows, and the conception rate was approximately 90%. More difficult courses of calving were reported from the small herds than from the large ones (p < 0.001). Total calf losses were 10% on the average. Most calf deaths occurred during the first week of life (p < 0.01), the most common cause of death being diarrhoea (p < 0.001). The situation was similar in large and small herds. Diarrhoea was also most often diagnosed in those calves that survived the early life stage. At the age of 120 days, the calves that had suffered from diarrhoea showed a lower body weight by 12.6 kg than the calves of the same age from the same herd that did not have diarrhoea. The occurrence of diarrhoea in small and large herds was 12.1% and 6.7% per herd, respectively (p < 0.05). Also, other health disorders were more often reported from small herds, in calves as well as in adult cows (p < 0.001).