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CALFHOOD diseases can lead to increased mortality in potential replacement heifers on dairy farms (Warnick and others 1995). Therefore, the early diagnosis of susceptible calves is imperative for successful disease prevention. One known risk factor for neonatal disease susceptibility is dystocia (Holland 1993), which leads to increased blood lactate levels immediately after birth (Franklyn 1993). Relatively inexpensive and transportable lactate meters, which allow blood lactate to be determined at "cowside", have recently become available. The objective of this study was to compare the blood lactate concentration measured at birth in calves to a modified APGAR (Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration) score, and to assess the predictive ability of lactate measurements for the incidence of disease in the first 14 days of life.