"The most scientifically sound method to improve the percentage of calves that survive to weaning does not rely on vaccines or antibiotics," says Bob Larson, extension veterinarian at the University of Missouri.

You can improve the odds of having a live calf at weaning by focusing on nutrition and management before and during calving season.

* Ensure heifers and cows receive adequate energy and protein before calving through a cost-effective feeding or supplementation program.

* Minimize dystocia through genetic selection and herd health to increase calf vigor at birth and decrease the interval from birth to suckling.

* Provide a calving area free from mud and wind.

* Segregate calves into different nursery pastures by age. By having nursery pastures, young calves are not exposed to older calves that may be shedding germs that cause scours.

* Calves that develop scours should be moved immediately to an area away from healthy calves and treated.