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Calving Basics: The First 15 Minutes
Homestead & Miniature Cattle Directory re-posted article

Subject: The first few minutes of a calf’s life can impact how she performs the rest of her life.
Content-Location: Calving Basics: The First 15 Minutes centralagsupply.com
Author: Jim Dickrell, jdickrell@farmjournal.com, 2018

What you do—or don’t do—in the first few minutes after a new calf is born, can impact her health & performance for the rest of her life.

“Events in the first 15 minutes after birth can make a lifetime of difference for newborns,” says Amanda Fordyce, a technical dairy calf consultant with Milk Products, Chilton, Wisconsin. She lists 6 key areas to help calves get off to their best start:

Assistance at Delivery. The natural inclination is to help in delivery as soon as the calf’s front hooves appear. Doing so can cause more harm than good, and interferes with some important natural processes. When cows deliver naturally, they often pause for a few minutes after the calf’s ribcage appears and the calf takes its first breath. At this point, the placenta transfers its blood supply, about one pint of blood, to the calf. This transfer is crucial for timely placenta expulsion and a thrifty calf, says Fordyce. “As long as the cow is progressing normally and the calf is in the correct position, with no signs of stress from the cow or the calf, the best strategy is to monitor the process,” she says.

newbornFirst Breaths. If the calf is not breathing, use a clean piece of straw in the nostrils or pour cold water on the calf’s forehead. Sit the calf up on its sternum by tucking the front legs under the body. “This sternal recumbency position helps ensure airways are open and make it easier for calves to breath,” says Fordyce.

Dangling calves. Some believe every newborn calf should be lifted upside down to help clear fluids from lungs. “Research has shown this practice does indeed expel fluids, but they are contents of the stomach—not the lungs,” says Fordyce. Upending the calf actually causes more stress to the animal. Internal organs press against and crush the diaphragm, making it more difficult for her to breathe.

Stillbirths. “Some calves may be born not breathing but still have a heartbeat,” she says. Check for the heartbeat by feeling the heart under the left leg on the rib cage. If you feel even a slight beat, vigorously rub the calf’s chest and use the straw-poke or cold- water techniques to stimulate her. You’ll be surprised how many calves ‘wake up’ and perform just fine, says Fordyce.

Warming boxes. “In instances of very cold weather, warming boxes are necessary,” she says. “But... TWO PROBLEMS: "...they can actually harm calves in the long run if used for too long or not clean enough.”

(1) Warming boxes become reservoirs of harmful bacteria that can easily infect susceptible newborn calves.

(2) Bring them in the House?? Spending 48 hours or more in a warm box--or if you bring them in the house--can deplete newborn calves’ internal stores of brown fat, leaving them less capable to adjust, when moved back out in the cold. Fordyce recommends using warm boxes sparingly, only until the calf’s hair coat is dry, up to 24 hours. Consider using a calf jacket or extra bedding in frigid conditions when temperatures are below 30°F.

Colostrum. “Calves can absorb critical antibodies and other immune factors from their dams only through colostrum,” says Fordyce. That ability begins to drop by 6 hours, and drops rapidly after 24 hours. Once the calf is breathing normally, make sure that calf is up and bonding well nursing the momma. It needs to receive 3 to 4 quarts of high quality colostrum within its first 2 hours of life. If the pair, or you can't get momma's colostrum to the calf, you will have to provide it. The colostrum should have a Brix refractometer reading of 22 or higher to ensure adequate quality. Consider keeping a separate collection of sanitized bottles, nipples and esophageal feeders for colostrum feeding only. If you can’t milk the calf’s dam immediately, consider using colostrum from other dams or a high-quality colostrum replacer with 150 grams IgG per dose, she says. ~ Jim Dickrell Thursday, March 08, 2018.

how to dehorn (disbud) calves with paste

“Colostrum; 5 Things to Know”

Colostrum; 5 Things to Know
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How to Dehorn Calves with Paste. If a calf needs to be dehorned, of all the various dehorning methods, dehorning with paste is the humane, easy, effective, and economical choice. It is low-stress to the calf. IMPORTANT: Apply dehorning paste before calves are 2 days old. Why: After 2 days, a calf has figured out how to scratch its head against something to rub the paste off, and, it can stand balanced on three legs to scratch it with its hind foot. This is a 2-sided pdf that opens in separate window. English & Spanish version. By Aurora Villarroel, DVM; Extension veterinarian, Oregon State University.



Additional Reading:

Weaning ~ Early vs Late Weaning: Calf Rearing: An Advanced Course, Cornell University Small Farms Program: Profit margins prove it; Herd Health & Happiness proves it: "Our current program for raising replacements consists of using our best cows, each raises her own calf, and only her own calf, for a full 10 months... The health and nutrition our replacements get in the first ten months set the stage for a lifetime of the same." 2011

Bull or Heifer Calf? How to influence calf gender the old fashioned way; a bit of passed down “grandfather homestead wisdom”

Weaning by the sign: "Another option available that many people use is weaning based on the Moon phases / signs. One “rule” for weaning is to do it when the Moon is the signs of Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. These signs rule the thighs, knees, ankles, and feet, and the dates listed in the Farmers’ Almanac are based on this rule." Read more at: https://wilkes.ces.ncsu.edu/2015/04/the-impact-of-weaning-calves/"


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