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|1106 EL: Management tips for calving|
|El Lechero Dairy Basics - Calf and Heifer Raising|
|Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00|
Ideally, cows should calve in a calving pen or on grass in a clean pasture which is free from standing water and which has shade.
The pasture should also be close enough to permit regular and easy supervision. It should be easy to take the cow or heifer to a calving pen for close examination and assistance. The calving pen should be at least 12’ by 12’ with clean, dry bedding such as shavings or dirt and lime.
This calving area should provide protection from the weather and must have running water and a cabinet for instruments and supplies. A maternity barn with well-bedded individual pens is a good alternative to a calving pasture, but the pens must be cleaned thoroughly between each use. There must be room for the cow to lie down plus room for the assistants to work behind the cow in a calving pen.
Shortly before calving, there will be pronounced swelling of the vulva and a relaxation of the tissues on sides of the tail setting. The cow should be watched closely but not disturbed after these symptoms are noticed.
Most cows give birth without any assistance, but some need help to prevent the death of the calf if delivery is extended more than 4 to 6 hours.
The services of a veterinarian may be needed in extreme cases.
Immediately after birth, the cow usually will lick the calf. This aids in drying the calf and stimulates circulation and breathing. If the cow fails to do this, the nostrils should be cleared of mucus, and the calf should be rubbed dry with a clean, dry cloth. Sometimes artificial respiration is necessary to start a calf breathing. Commercial devices for artificial respiration are available.
Often, tickling the nostrils with a straw or gently pushing on the rib cage will start breathing. In extremely cold weather, blankets and heat lamps may be necessary to keep the calf warm. The calf’s navel should be painted with tincture of iodine soon after birth to prevent entrance of infectious organisms. EL