A cohort study was conducted on 69 live calves from October, 2008 to June, 2009 to identify the risk factors associated with, and the major causes of, calf mortality in the three selected intensive dairy farms at Bishoftu town. The total crude mortality rate found in this study was 11.6 % ( CI=11.38-11.82) while the crude mortality rate of each farm was 0%, 13.6% and 21.7 %, in AB, DF and GC dairy farms respectively. Among the risk factors assessed the amount of colostrums (χ2 =5.14, P = 0.023) and method of colostrum provision (χ2 = 4.83, P = 0.028) were found to be significantly associated with the death of calves while the other risk factors had no significant association with calf mortality. Among the causes of death recorded, calf diarrhea was the leading cause of calf mortality with case specific mortality rate of 5.8%. The present study suggested that the existence of high mortality rates respectively in GC and DF dairy farms might be due to poor calf management recorded in the two farms, especially in GC dairy farm. Hence adequate intake of good quality and quantity of colostrum, good hygienic practices of farms and veterinary services should be ensured; moreover, further investigation is suggested to identify the specific causative agents incriminated for calf mortality in dairy farms of the study area.
Key words: Key words: Calves, causes of death, Dairy farms, Risk factors