Post-Calving Season, Newborns and Heifers

Post-Calving Season, Newborns and Heifers

Once you have been through a successful calving season, you cannot abandon the work you have done. Continued support for the heifer and the newest addition to the farm is critical.

As the calving season comes to an end, checking the nutrients of calves, creating the perfect condition for their development and ensuring that you are prepped with the correct supplies is essential. Safe and efficient practices will guide the calf’s development and can help reduce the pressure on you.

There are a few extra duties that you need to follow. Read on to find out.

The Newborn

There are three main focal areas for supporting the newborn once the heifer has given birth.

  1. Breathing

After the birth of the calf is normal or assisted correctly, the newborn will automatically take its first full breath within just a few minutes. If the calf is not breathing post-delivery, you will need to intervene.

This process starts by clearing the airway through the removal of any obvious obstructions covering the nostrils and any fluids that may be in the back of the calf’s mouth. With the use of a small suction tube, the removal of these fluids can be achieved. After the airway is cleared, a piece of straw can be placed into one nostril and moved around in an attempt to stimulate a sneeze reflex. This reflex triggers the calf to blow any excess fluids that may have also been blocking the airway.

  1. Cleaning and Drying

Once the calf is properly breathing, the next step is to aid its survival by cleaning off any excess fluid that may be on its body. It is important to remember that newborns lose heat to the environment rapidly which can cause the calf to weaken. Creating an area, such as a steel shed, that is designed to block the harsh outdoor weather can aid this process and avoid the weakening of the calf.

Attentive cows will normally clean the calf immediately also stimulating muscle movement and circulation. If the calf is in need of assistance when recovering its strength, manual drying, and warming can be performed.

  1. Nursing

A newborn’s first meal is a critical step that requires cooperation from the cow. The cow must stand relatively still as the calf attempts to suckle its first feed within the first two hours of birth. Colostrum is required to provide antibody protection against disease as well as the necessary energy and nutrients the calf needs to regulate and maintain body heat. If the cow does not corporate, there are instances where you may need to intervene and control its movement with the use of a head catch, until the calf has nursed.

Nutritional Care After Calving

During the calving cycle, feeding and nutritional needs can fluctuate drastically. To promote good fertility and milk production, post-delivery cows should be well fed. Due to the demand for milk production, it is assumed that the cow’s intake will not only increase but will require higher quality feed. In some districts, young cows that give birth during autumn often require high-quality supplements. High-quality hay such as early cut oaten hay or cereal grain and pellets can help with this demand.

Following calving, feeding should begin immediately as cattle may need some time to adapt to the new type and quantity of feed.

Post Birth Difficulties

Unfortunately, not every birth is smooth sailing. Following a difficult birth, it is common for young cows to desert their calves. During this time, it is advisable that the cow and calf are confined within a small area, such as a shed, and only allowed back with the main herd once the calf has been accepted by the cow.

The short time that immediately follows the birth of a calf is a crucial period. Assistance may be needed not only for the calf but for the cow as well. Providing the cow with the required supply of quality feed to aid the production of milk for the calf and rebreed is vital. Steel Supplies Charters Towers can provide you with durable, high-quality steel sheds that keep newborns safe, warm and protected.


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