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Five tips for newborn calf resuscitation

PD Editor Karen Lee Published on 21 October 2011

During a wet lab at PDPW’s Calf Care workshop this week in Arlington, Wisconsin, Dr. Sheila McGuirk from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine demonstrated a variety of ways to provide proper care to young calves.

Stillborn calf rates can be as high as 12 to 18 percent on dairy farms. One way to avoid early calf death is to know the signs to watch for just after birth and be able to act in a timely manner.



According to McGuirk, a healthy calf should shake its head within five minutes of birth and attempt to stand within 15 minutes. If these are not happening, the calf will need stimulation.

McGuirk provided five tips for newborn resuscitation without the use of drugs or an aspirator.

1. Using a clean, dry towel, rub the calf from rump to head along the backline.

2. Using a clean, dry towel, rub the calf’s head by the ears and eyes.

3. Take a piece of clean straw and place it in the forefront of the calf’s nostrils.

4. Take a piece of clean straw and, using the end, poke it in the center front of the calf’s nose.


5. Dribble ice water on the back of the calf’s head or just a small amount inside the calf’s ear. PD

Karen Lee
  • Karen Lee

  • Progressive Dairyman Midwest Editor
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