New USDA Rule Allows Flavored Milk to be Served to 30 Million Children

Working to supply 30 million children in 99,000 schools with healthy and appealing meals, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Thursday that the Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements rule has been finalized.

The rule provides the option to offer flavored, low-fat milk to children participating in school meal programs, and to participants ages 6 and older in the Special Milk Program for Children and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Additionally, the law requires half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich and will also provide more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals.

“USDA is committed to serving meals to kids that are both nutritious and satisfying,” Perdue said in a press release. “These common-sense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals, while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.”

Milk consumption in schools has decreased over the past eight years as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, according to U.S. Reps. G.T. Thompson (R-PA).

“If schools have more options, students are going to drink more milk, which was once a staple in the diet of our student populations,” Thompson said. “I applaud Agriculture Secretary Purdue for taking this important action to ensure students are receiving meals that are both nutritious and satisfying.”

The ruling has been praised not only by schools, but by producers and dairy cooperatives as well.

“This is great news, not only for dairy farmers and processors, but also for schoolkids across the U.S.,” says John Rettler, president of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative. “This is a step in the right direction in ensuring that school cafeterias are able to provide valuable nutrition in options that appeal to growing children’s taste buds. Their good habits now have the potential to make them lifelong milk-drinkers.”

AVMA Calls for More Action on Veterinary Shortages

John Maday

The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal. The opinions expressed below are the author’s own.

Many veterinary students who are interested in rural, food-animal practice face a dilemma, with student loans, lower pay and other barriers discouraging them from pursuing that goal. Research from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and elsewhere generally shows that U.S. veterinary schools produce enough graduates, even those with food-animal specialties, to meet demand on a national level. Distribution however, remains a problem, with isolated rural areas facing ongoing shortages of veterinary services.

The USDA has recognized this problem, and each year works to identify shortage areas and provide economic incentives, through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), for DVM graduates to set up practice in those areas.

Last week, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) announced that 74 food animal and public health veterinarians will receive educational loan assistance in exchange for a three-year service commitment to practice in a USDA-designated veterinary shortage area.

“The VMLRP is one of the best tools available to help address veterinary shortages, and we’re grateful Congress recognized its importance by providing a $1.5 million increase in funding for the program this year,” says AVMA President Dr. John de Jong. He adds that VMLRP has become more important to agricultural communities as veterinary student debt now exceeds $140,000 on average, or more than $167,000 for veterinary students who graduate with debt. Compounding the problem, rural salaries are often lower than those for veterinarians practicing in urban areas.

Past recipients of VMLRP grants often credit the program with helping them establish viable rural practices. “Our local veterinarian owned the only large animal clinic in town and was desperate to retire, but he couldn’t find a younger veterinarian to take his place,” says Dr. Kaki Nicotre, a 2015 VMLRP award recipient based in Clifton, Texas. “The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program made it possible for me to take over his practice and continue caring for the community’s livestock and pets. Now, I’ve settled down in Clifton and I’m looking forward to treating local animals for years to come.”

Dr. David Brennan from Ashland, Ohio, utilized the VMLRP to get started in rural practice in 2008. After 10 years, he purchased the practice in what he calls a natural progression. The VMLRP, he says, provides a double win, enabling young veterinarians to establish themselves in rural practices where their services are needed while also benefiting those communities.

Brennan says while some areas are under-served, there is no real shortage of food-animal veterinarians. In order to attract young associates, rural practices need to stay up to date and provide opportunities for young veterinarians to practice a full range of skills. He stresses that the role of rural veterinarians has changed, with more emphasis on consultation services including designing and monitoring protocols, analyzing performance data, evaluating facilities for cattle health and welfare, nutritional services and others, rather than “fire-engine medicine.”

According to the AVMA, the VMLRP has helped place veterinarians in more than 415 federally designated shortage areas across 45 states since its inception in 2010. However, more than 113 shortage areas remain unfilled this year.

In order to fill these areas of need and expand the VMLRP’s effectiveness and reach, AVMA is asking Congress to pass the VMLRP Enhancement Act, which would lift a 39 percent income withholding tax on the program’s awards. By ending this tax, which is covered by USDA, Congress could effectively expand the program’s reach without needing additional funding. AVMA encourages the veterinary community to contact Congress on this issue.

For more on this topic, see these articles on

NIFA Awards Nearly $10 Million to Address Veterinary Shortages

USDA Solicits Nominations for Veterinary Shortage Areas

Bovine Practice Well Positioned for the Future

Help Wanted: Rural Veterinarians

Additional information on the program can be found on NIFA’s website.

CALFeteria Menu Changes for the Winter

As the weather turns colder there’s been a more frequent addition to our daily lunch menu from the Miner cafeteria: hot soup! On those colder days I’ve seen a lot more people enjoying a cup of soup to help warm them up after being out in the cold. Similarly, as it gets colder you might observe that your older calves are eating more of their starter to help meet their energy requirements. But what about your youngest calves?

Calves less than 3 or 4 weeks of age are probably not consuming enough starter to really contribute to their energy requirements. The youngest calves on your farm are completely dependent on the nutrients consumed in their milk or milk replacer. As the temperature drops it becomes more challenging to meet nutrient requirements for not only growth but also their basic maintenance requirements.

The thermoneutral zone of a calf under 3 weeks of age is between 59 and 77°. Below this and the heat that a calf produces is equal to the amount of heat lost and the calf experiences cold stress. Therefore, to maintain body temperature, the calf must either consume more energy or the calf will be forced to use what limited body reserves it has for this purpose. This prioritization of nutrients will always go first to maintenance (thermal regulation, immune and stress responses and then toward growth.)


The requirement for maintenance in a calf is quite substantial. Depending on your feeding program the calves on your farm could easily consume enough nutrients to meet their maintenance requirements. However, if you feed 4 to 6 quarts of milk or milk replacer per day then it becomes more challenging to meet maintenance requirements for the youngest calves during cold weather. As an example, the table above estimates the amount (in quarts) of whole milk or milk replacer (20% protein; 20% fat) required to meet the maintenance requirement of an 88-pound calf.

For calves being fed whole milk, if the environmental temperature reaches 23° or below the majority of a 4 qt. allotment is mostly going toward maintenance, leaving little to no nutrients for growth. For calves fed a more conventional milk replacer, the amount required to meet maintenance requirements per day is greater relative to whole milk. Below 41°, much of a 4 qt. allotment of a 20:20 milk replacer would be used for maintenance. As the temperatures drop below 14° almost 5 qts. or more are required for maintenance alone.

Meeting the maintenance requirement becomes more challenging when temperatures fall below 0°, which it often does in the North Country and in other parts of the Northern U.S. Although there are different ranges of feeding levels and milk replacer formulations, the big takeaway is making sure you’re meeting the needs of the calf so that she can meet her maintenance requirements and also continue to grow.

How can we achieve this in cold weather?

  1. Increase amount of milk or milk replacer fed per day. This can be achieved by increasing the quantity, either through an extra feeding or more milk during normal feedings.
  2. Supplement milk replacer with added fat or additional milk solids. With increased solids it is crucial to provide free-choice water.
  3. Switch to a more energy dense milk replacer that is formulated with higher fat concentrations.
  4. Increase starter intake. Make sure you are feeding a palatable starter. It is also very important to continue to provide water during the cold because starter intake is linked with water consumption.

Increasing starter intake is most likely the most challenging task in the youngest calves, so focus on the first three methods to maximize nutrients for maintenance and additional growth. Other calf management practices to keep in mind are to provide deep and dry bedding, calf jackets, minimize drafts, and make sure milk or milk replacer is fed to the calf at or above body temperature at time of delivery.

Now the big question: how are you planning to make changes to your “calf”eteria this winter?

Twitter’s @DFaber84 Finds the Funny in Lousy Milk Prices

@DFaber84 admits it’s hard to stay funny when facing financial challenges, but he says Twitter is how he escapes the worry. ( Farm Journal )

He’s a farmer, father and quickly becoming one of the funniest farmers on Twitter. Dwayne Faber’s Twitter following climbed to over 30,000 this year. It’s humor that helped him gain traction by followers, and it’s that daily dose of humor he hasn’t veered away from yet. The funny tweets continue to flow, despite the many challenges he’s battling as a dairy farmer in Washington State.

“Definitely milk prices, that topline revenue” said Faber, when asked about his biggest challenge. “That’s been the hardest part; milk prices just aren’t there.”

It’s not just the price he and other dairy farmers are getting for their milk that’s an obstacle. It’s also finding enough labor to do the work in a very labor-intensive business.

“Labor has always been an issue; that’s continuing to be an issue,” said Faber. “Living in the Pacific Northwest, anybody with a pulse can go to Seattle and make $25 an hour, and we’re having to compete with that.”

It’s those challenges that can mute anyone’s outlook. After several years of grueling prices, some farmers are becoming jaded, as financial burdens chip away at optimism in farming. Faber says he chose a different route, opting to use Twitter as the place he can escape, ultimately choosing humor over negativity.

“It’s tough, said Faber. “You do look for outlets, and for me Twitter is an outlet. It’s a way to separate a little bit.”

He’s hopeful milk prices will turn around in 2019. He said the optimistic piece today is dairy farmers already faced four straight years of low milk prices. He said at some point, the markets are going to flip, he’s just hoping the turnaround comes soon.

It’s that turnaround that some analysts project could happen in six months; a glimmer of hope Farm Journal’s MILK editor Mike Opperman has been following.

“I think if we pick up on the demand side – both globally and domestically – we’ll help take up some of that supply that’s out there,” said Opperman. “I think that demand starts to come around, and we’ll start to see milk prices start to jump.”

Here Comes Pneumonia Season

Veterinarian Carrie Bargren of River Valley Veterinary Clinic, Plain, Wis., said a calf that experiences pneumonia at less than 3 months of age will be affected well into her lactating career. Bargren shares a list of strategies on which she advises clients to prevent pneumonia in growing replacements. ( Farm Journal )

The calfhood disease with the longest-lasting impact on lifetime performance is – hands down – pneumonia, according to Carrie Bargren, practicing dairy veterinarian at River Valley Veterinary Clinic, Plain, Wis.

“A calf that has had pneumonia, even if she has recovered with treatment, will be 2.4 times more likely to have impaired growth in the first 6 months of life,” said Bargren. “She also will be 2.4 times more likely to die between the ages of 3 months and 2.5 years, and there is the same risk that she will calve 2 months later than her healthy herdmates.”

Bargren explained there are three categories of pneumonia in calves:

  • Aspiration – This form of pneumonia occurs when any solid material is inhaled and enters the lungs. The most common cause is improper use of esophageal feeders when administering colostrum. Aspiration also may occur during a difficult birth when a calf inhales some meconium (first manure) or amniotic fluid. A common source of aspiration in older calves is nipples with holes that are too large, which allow calves to consume milk too quickly.
  • Bacterial – The three primary organisms that cause bacterial pneumonia in calves are Pasteurella multocida, Mannheimia hemolytica, and Mycoplasma species. “Bacterial infections that occur in the first few days of life result from infection within the dam, aspiration or contaminated colostrum,” said Bargren. “As calves grow older, new infections typically are acquired from the environment or other sick calves.”
  • Viral – BRSV, IBR, PI3 and BVDV all can instigate pneumonia in calves. “A viral pneumonia then predisposes calves to acquiring bacterial pneumonia,” said Bargren.

Bargren advises her clients to take the following measures to prevent pneumonia in young calves:

  1. Vaccination – Dry cows can be vaccinated for virtually all of the viral pathogens that cause pneumonia, and the antibodies for them then can be transferred to calves via colostrum. In addition, she said, “a good intranasal vaccine at birth will stimulate the tissues in the airways to make antibodies and be ready to kill respiratory pathogens before they enter the body, providing additional protection for the calf for 4-6 weeks.” She suggests a booster of intranasal vaccine at weaning.
  2. Colostrum delivery – Colostrum is the only immune protection calves have for the first few weeks of life. Bargren recommends feeding 4 quarts within 6 hours after birth, and monitoring colostrum quality with a refractometer. Checking calves for total proteins (TP) to screen for Failure of Passive Transfer (FPT) of immunity is advised to monitor colostrum management.
  3. Housing – “Clean air and deep bedding are the most important factors in preventing disease through housing management,” said Bargren. “Proper ventilation systems in calf barns will bring in clean air and remove contaminated air.” She recommends at least 26 square feet of resting space for calves in hutches or individual pens, and at least 30 square feet per head in group pens. Regardless of type, she said shelter systems should protect calves from extreme heat, cold, wind chill, rain, dust and aerosolized pathogens, all of which can stress immunity.
  4. Nutrition – “Proper nutrition is required for healthy growth rates and to sustain immune function,” said Bargren. “Adjust volume to accommodate for cold temperatures.”

Bargren noted a routine screening program is necessary to detect pneumonia in young calves, especially because their early clinical signs usually are very subtle. “An ideal time to watch for respiratory disease is feeding time,” she suggested. “A newly sick calf will be slower to drink or too uncomfortable to lie down afterward.”

To improve respiratory disease detection and monitor treatment efficacy, Bargren recommends using the Calf Health Scorer app from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

Tips for Feeding Water in the Winter

Feeding free-choice water to preweaned calves has been proven to improve rate of gain from birth to weaning by 33%, compared to calves receiving no water.

New York calf and heifer specialist Sam Leadley said part of this increase is due to an accompanying increase in calf starter grain consumed by calves with access to water. That increase in nutrients in turn, supports rumen development and immunity, allowing calves to more effectively grow and fight off disease.

With all these benefits, feeding water is somewhat of a “no-brainer.” But it becomes a little more challenging to put into practice in the winter months, when water pails quickly become Popsicle® molds, and emptying them after freezing is a tedious-if-not-impossible task.

Still, Leadley said, it’s important. “Calves have no less need for water in the winter compared to the warmer months, even though they might drink a little less,” he stated.

In addition, cold temperatures call for an adjustment in water temperature. Calves need to divert energy from growth to maintenance of core body temperature as the ambient temperature declines. For newborn calves, that threshold for environmental temperature is 60˚F; for month-old calves, it’s about 40˚F. “You don’t want to add to that burden by feeding cold water that their bodies must warm up internally,” Leadley advised. “So it makes sense to feed water close to their body temperature – about 102˚F.”

The consultant shares two practices he has seen farms use to effectively deliver water to calves in the winter:

  1. Feed close to predicted consumption – This approach ensures there are few “leftovers” to freeze in water pails. Leadley said the volume of water calves will drink has a fairly direct correlation to the amount of starter grain consumed, so younger calves need less water. “With a little trial and error, you can predict fairly precisely how much water each calf needs daily based on age,” he said.
  2. Develop a “feed and dump” routine – This approach delivers water in a finite timeframe, to which calves usually become quickly accustomed. “On some farms, they feed water, feed grain, and then return and dump any leftover water,” explained Leadley. “Others feed water before noon, take a lunch break, and then return to dump the water.” He said in either case, it is important to establish a routine and stick with it. With consistent implementation, calves learn to drink the water as soon as it is delivered and consume what they want before it is dumped. Also, be sure to dump water into a larger receptacle and dispose of it away from the calf site, to avoid hazardous ice build-up.

With either approach, a valuable side benefit is that fresh water is presented daily. Leadley cited research that showed calves with daily water changes, regardless of season, had a 5% weight-gain advantage compared to calves whose water was changed once a week; and 11% compared to calves with every-other-week changing.

Should Milk Be Fed While Calves are Scouring?

Different ways currently exist for feeding milk or milk replacer while feeding oral rehydration solution to scouring calves. ( Maureen Hanson )

Different ways currently exist for feeding milk or milk replacer while feeding oral rehydration solution to scouring calves. One way is to cut milk out completely and only feed oral rehydration solution for the entire treatment period. Another way is to only feed the oral rehydration solution for 2 days then feed half and half with milk the last day. And the third way is to feed the rehydration solution and milk as well in separate feedings.

Calves need enough energy to maintain their weight as well as their immune system, especially when they are sick. Oral rehydration solutions cannot provide enough energy because they are limited in the amount of glucose that can be added in order to keep the osmolarity of the solution low. Therefore, feeding milk or milk replacer supplies more energy and protein, allowing calves to maintain weight.

One of the studies showing the benefit of milk feeding while treating with rehydration solution was conducted at the University of Illinois. Once scouring occurred, calves were placed onto 3 different treatments. Treatment 1 consisted of only rehydration solution fed for 2 days, after which milk was slowly incorporated back into the diet for 7 days. Treatment 2 consisted of a partial removal of milk during therapy, and treatment 3 was a full feeding of milk as well as rehydration solution for 7 days. Fecal scores did not differ between treatments and body weights were higher for the treatments that incorporated milk in some way, especially the treatment that fed a full allotment of milk for the entire treatment period.

Electrolytes Fig 2
Treatment 1 was oral rehydration solution (ORS) only, treatment 2 was ORS with low feeding of milk and treatment 3 is equal ORS and milk feedings. Adapted from Garthwaite et al., 1994, Journal of Dairy Science 77:835-843.

Should Antibiotics be Given?

If scouring becomes a regular occurrence a veterinarian should be consulted to determine the source and whether antibiotics are appropriate. Also, a few fecal samples should be taken and sent to a diagnostic lab to evaluate the cause of enteric infection. This may help establish a preventative program and save time and labor in treatment of scouring calves.

What Should the Oral Rehydration Solution Contain?

First, an important distinction needs to be made between oral rehydration solutions used for treatment of scouring calves and those used for electrolyte supplementation. The latter are used to supplement extra electrolytes to older, usually weaned calves or cattle during times of stress from transport, weather and other situations that can cause loss of fluids and electrolytes. It is easy to mistake one type for another; however, if the directions require small amounts of powder being mixed into gallons of water, this indicates that the solution is only supplemental and should not be used for treatment of scours in preweaned calves.

One of the most important components of oral rehydration solutions is water. Water is the essential ingredient to a rehydration solution.

Sodium should be included in the solution at 70 to 145 mmol/L. Sodium is tightly regulated by the body and although low amounts of sodium in the body can cause problems (from diarrhea, for example), high amounts can also cause problems. If the sodium offered is too high, calves will need to drink more water to dilute these amounts; this extra water may not be available in the pen or they may be too weak to reach it. Sodium should also be at an average ratio of one to one with glucose to be absorbed efficiently.

Another important ingredient is an energy source such as glucose (dextrose may also be listed but it is only a different name for glucose). Glucose is transported into the intestine on a one to one ratio with sodium and thus helps sodium absorption. However, no more than 200 mmol/L should be included because this may change the osmolarity of the solution. A solution with high osmolarity will draw water out of the intestine instead of into the intestine. When the amount of solutes is high on one side of a semi-permeable membrane, this causes water from the side with a low concentration to be drawn to dilute the contents of the side with a higher concentration. The same happens in the intestine. If the solution in the lumen of the small intestine is too high in solutes, water will come out of the body into the lumen to dilute the contents and end up being excreted instead of absorbed.

Glycine is a non-essential amino acid that is commonly added to oral rehydration solutions and has been shown to enhance absorption of glucose. To calculate the amount that should be included in the oral rehydration solution, the level of glycine should be added to the sodium level and the total should not exceed 145 mmol/L. The total of glycine and sodium should also equal a one to one ratio with glucose.

Alkalinizing agents are added to decrease metabolic acidosis and may also provide some energy. These are usually attached to sodium and include bicarbonate, citrate, lactate, acetate or propionate. One of the most common alkalinizing additions is bicarbonate, which should not be fed directly or within a few hours of whole milk. Bicarbonate and citrate inhibit the formation of the casein curd in the abomasum. If feeding an oral rehydration solution with bicarbonate or citrate, it should be fed about 4 hours after milk feeding. Acetate is the most easily metabolized. Alkalinizing agents should be included at 50 to 80 mmol/L.

Oral rehydration solutions will also contain other electrolytes, especially potassium and chloride, as well as many minerals. Potassium and chloride are needed to maintain pH of the blood and for muscle contractions, especially in the heart. Although little research has concentrated on evaluating amounts of potassium and chloride needed to replenish electrolytes in scouring calves, the range of potassium found in most solutions is 20 to 30 mmol/L and chloride is 50 to 100 mmol/L.

Other additions can include gelling agents such as guar gum, pectin and others. These have not been shown to be largely beneficial nor detrimental. Oral rehydration solutions containing gelling agents reduce diarrhea within hours of feeding and may coat inflamed intestinal mucosa. Slowing down the passage rate of the rehydration solution also may allow the intestine to absorb more nutrients. However, this may also reduce the body’s ability to flush toxins out. More research is needed to determine the advantages and disadvantages of gelling agents.

Many rehydration solutions are also adding direct-fed microbials. These are bacteria that are meant to re-establish the correct ratios of gut microflora. Usually these probiotics consist of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species, both of which work against E. coli and are beneficial to the intestinal environment. There is no published research at this time evaluating direct-fed microbial effects in rehydration solutions. An oral rehydration solution should be chosen based on its ability to provide correct levels of electrolytes and to rehydrate rather than whether it contains microbials.

Milk Protein Could Aid in Chemotherapy Side Effects

Cancer patients often suffer poor appetite, weight loss, depression and diminished nutrition, all of which are detrimental to recovery.
( Canva )

One of the most common side effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients is weight loss due to loss of appetite. According to a study conducted by Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, lactoferrin, a protein most commonly found in milk, is shown help alleviate the metallic aftertaste side effect associated with this aggressive treatment.

“The prevailing symptom described by patients undergoing chemotherapy is a persistent metallic flavor or aftertaste, with or without food intake,” said Susan Duncan, Ph.D., R.D. at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Thus, cancer patients often suffer poor appetite, weight loss, depression, and diminished nutrition, all of which are detrimental to recovery, according to Manitoba Co-operator News.

After extracting lactoferrin from cows’ milk, researchers administered this protein to chemotherapy users as a dietary supplement and found that it helped reduce unpleasant flavors and even restored the appetite for many of the patients.

“Our research shows that daily lactoferrin supplementation elicits changes in the salivary protein profiles in cancer patients — changes that may be influential in helping to protect taste buds and odor perception,” said Duncan.

While October is typically associated with Brest Cancer Awareness Month,this dairy protein can be used to help relieve one of the negative side effects correlated to chemotherapy, a treatment used to help battle all forms of cancer.

Simple Calf Respiratory Scoring System

Winter is approaching, and respiratory disease remains one of the leading causes of illness and death in preweaned dairy calves. ( University of California-Davis )

Respiratory disease is the cause of 22.5% of deaths in unweaned heifers and 46.5% in weaned heifers, according to the USDA National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS). For the survivors, a respiratory event early in a heifer’s life could result in lifelong lung damage that curtails future health and profitability. Replacement heifers that experience early life pneumonia are more likely to have impaired growth; delayed age at first calving; increased probability of having a difficult delivery at first calving; and premature culling, when compared to their healthier herdmates.

University of California-Davis researcher Amy Young said early detection and treatment of sick animals is important regardless of cause. “Often there are multiple causes of respiratory disease, such as a combination of viral and bacterial infections, along with various management and environmental stressors,” said Young.

Among a group of animals, individuals may be observed with varying severity and stage of disease. Diagnostic tests can be expensive, so caretakers should be trained to consistently assess an animal’s health status. To do so, UC-Davis has developed a simple BRD scoring systems as a way to standardize diagnosis across a large number of animals.

The UC-Davis scoring system assesses six clinical signs. When present, a specific number of points are assigned for each sign. A total score of 5 or higher classifies an individual as a BRD case.

  • Cough = 2 points
  • Eye discharge = 2 points
  • Fever (> 39.2oC) = 2 points
  • Abnormal respiration = 2 points
  • Nasal discharge = 4 points
  • Ear droop or head tilt = 5 points

“One of the advantages of this system is that a rectal temperature is not needed for every calf,” said Young. “Rectal temperature only is needed if the total score for the visible signs is 4. A fever could then tip the score over the cutoff of 5.”


UC Davis Respiratory

Researchers have compared the UC-Davis scoring system to a similar – but more elaborate – system developed at the University of Wisconsin. Validation of the simplified scoring system was performed by scoring 500 hutch-raised calves in parallel on both the UC-Davis system and the Wisconsin system. The Wisconsin system uses five clinical signs scored by level of severity. The UC-Davis system scored slightly higher in sensitivity (72.3% vs. 70.8%), while the Wisconsin system was slightly more specific (93.1% vs. 89.9%).

“At the end of the day, the best scoring system for a particular farm is the one that will actually be used on a regular basis to determine which animals are sick,” said Young.  “A simplified system that is easy to implement allows for the identification of sick animals more efficiently, thereby allowing them to be treated in a timelier manner. This has positive implications not only for the individual calf, but overall for animal welfare improvement.”

A printable version of the UC-Davis scoring chart, in both English and Spanish, can be accessed here. The scoring system also is available as a free, downloadable app.

The system was developed by researchers at the University of California (UC) Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Animal Science and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

First Aid Kits for Production Agriculture

Accidents on farms and ranches can be quite severe, and space in a first aid kit is limited, so it is important to choose items for kits wisely. ( AgWeb )

Complied by Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice

Most farms and ranches require multiple first aid kits due to the many types of jobs and the dispersed areas of work in a production agriculture operation. Not only is it important to have appropriate first aid kits on your farm or ranch, it is important that you and others in your operation understand basic first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Accidents on farms and ranches can be quite severe, and space in a first aid kit is limited, so it is important to choose items for kits wisely. Follow these guidelines when assembling a first aid kit:

Include pertinent personal information in first aid kits for individuals who have specific medical conditions. For example, indicate that a certain person has an allergic reaction to bee stings.

Include the contact information for the family doctor of each person working in the vicinity of the kit.

Remember that agricultural incidents may occur at night or in winter, so include items such as flares, flashlights, emergency blankets, and waterproof matches.

In an emergency situation, it is common for people to forget what they have learned in first aid classes, so include a first aid manual in each kit.

For the kits, use containers that are dust-free and water-resistant. Label the kits clearly.

Check first aid kits annually for expired products such as ice packs, heat packs, ointments, saline solution, and so on, and change the flashlight batteries. When you use any items in a first aid kit, replace the items immediately.

Larger first aid kits should be located at main farm or ranch buildings or in the home. Smaller first aid kits should be kept on major pieces of farm equipment and in vehicles.

The following items should be included in a large first aid kit:

  • Sterile first aid dressings in sealed envelopes, in the following sizes:
    • 2 in. by 2 in. for small wounds
    • 4 in. by 4 in. for larger wounds and for compresses to stop bleeding
  • Two trauma dressings for covering large areas
  • Small, sterile adhesive compresses in sealed envelopes
  • Roller bandages and 1 in., 2 in., and 6 in. cling bandages
  • Rolls of adhesive tape in assorted widths (to hold dressings in place)
  • Triangle bandages to use as slings or as coverings over large dressings
  • Antiseptic wash
  • Tongue depressors
  • Bandage scissors and heavy-duty scissors to cut clothing
  • Tweezers to remove insect stingers or small splinters
  • Splints that are 1/4 in. thick by 3 in. wide by 12 to 15 in. long for splinting broken arms and legs
  • Sterile saline solution
    • 8 fl. oz. for small kits
    • 2 qt. for large kits
  • Safety pins
  • Ice packs (chemical ice bags) to reduce swelling
  • A pocket mask for resuscitation
  • Three small packages of sugar for individuals with diabetes
  • Disposable rubber gloves and eye goggles
  • An emergency blanket

Note that dressings must be sterile—do not make your own dressings.

Farm first aid kits can be purchased through certain businesses and organizations. Click the links below to view kits and ordering information:

Specialty Kits

Injuries vary from job to job in production agriculture, so first aid kits should be tailored to the potential injury that could result from a particular job. Listed below are specialty kits and recommended items, in addition to the basic items outlined above, for inclusion in each kit.

Specialty First Aid Kits
Type of Specialty Kit Types of Injury Kit Items
Tractor/Combine Small wounds, minor or major bleeding, fractures, sprains, or severed limbs, amputation, or entanglement Basic first aid manual

Two triangular bandages (36 in.)

Antiseptic spray

Six large adhesive bandages

Four safety pins

Sterile compress bandages (four 2 in. by 2 in. bandages and four 4 in. by 4 in. bandages)

Roll of 2 in. wide tape

Two pressure bandages (8 in. by 10 in.)


Two rolls of elastic wrap

Five clean plastic bags (varied sizes from bread bags to garbage bags)

Amputation Amputation of a finger or limb Plastic bags of varying sizes (one large garbage bag, four medium kitchen garbage bags, and eight small plastic bread bags)

Closable container to store bags

Dressing Supplies Major trauma Sterile compresses (2 in. by 2 in. and 4 in. by 4 in.)

Gauze roller bandages (1 in., 2 in., and 6 in. wide)

Adhesive tape

Triangular bandage

Tongue depressors

Heavy-duty scissors

Chemical ice packs

Disposable rubber gloves


Tweezers and safety pins

Emergency blanket

Antiseptic spray

Fracture (for immobilization of an injured limb) Broken bone Wooden or plastic splints

Roll of elastic wrap

Tongue depressors

Pesticide Exposure (for use during pesticide application season or to keep in pesticide storage area) Ingestion of or contact with pesticide Emergency and poison control center contact information

Two 1 qt. containers of clean water

Ipecac syrup

Emergency blanket

Plastic bags


Disposable rubber gloves


Action Steps

Take the following steps to prepare for potential emergencies or accidents on your farm or ranch:

Get training in first aid and CPR. Contact the American Red Cross, National Safety Council, or local emergency medical service or hospital to locate trainings in your area.

Make specialized first aid kits for various areas of the farm or ranch. Follow the instructions above to assemble the kits and remember to restock the kit after use and to replace expired items annually.

For more information about preparing your farm or ranch personnel for an agricultural incident, click here to access the article “Basic First Aid” and here to access “Basic CPR.”