Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Calving the cow and caring for the newborn calf

Calving the cow and caring for the newborn calf

Calving the cow and caring for the newborn calf are important tasks on every spring suckler herd in the coming weeks. It is important to manage calvings to reduce problems as much as possible. Vet Tommy Heffernan discussed these important topics on the Beef Edge podcast with Catherine Egan recently

Calving the cow

Ideally move pregnant animals to a calving unit before they start to calve – this will generally ensure a more hygienic environment and help prevent losses due to early scours and navel/joint ill.  Vet Tommy Heffernan discussed these important topics in detail on the Beef Edge podcast in a two-part interview podcast series

In the first part of the series, Tommy highlights all the top tips related to calving the suckler cow. A significant number of farmers tend to intervene too early. Supervise but don’t necessarily intervene during calving. Intervene if calving is not progressing normally; if two hours after the waterbag or fetal hooves appear the calf is not born, examine the birth canal and calf with a gloved hand. Tommy advises how long to wait to intervene and how long is too long?

Tommy describes when handling a cow, that a normal presentation includes the legs out and coming to a point in tandem with a head that has plenty of space in the pelvis available to it. He advises what to do if a calf is presenting with leg or the head is back or coming backways. To avoid injuries to the calf, call the vet early if you’re not sure you can get the calf out alive. Tommy also discusses the key things to be aware of when using the calving jack and important points for farmers to keep in mind. A calving jack can exert the pressure of three men. So it’s important to use the tool sensitively. Preparation is key and avoiding any situation where there is a health and safety risk is essential. Correctly restraining the cow is important at calving time. Tune into this podcast episode below: 


Caring for the newborn calf

Once the calf is born focus move to caring for the newborn calf .Tommy advises the importance of treating the calves navel to avoid infection. He advises to dip the navel in preference to spraying it. He outlines how building the immunity of the calf is important through quality colostrum and describes the 1-2-3 rule of colostrum and how to administer it with a stomach tube if necessary. Hygiene is also very important and use of adequate amounts of straw is a big help. Tommy discusses the types and treatments of calf scour particularly Cryptosporidium and Coccidiosis. He also explains that respiratory infections and diseases are one of the main causes of deaths in unweaned calves, highlighting the main causes and treatments. Finally, Tommy advises on the use of vaccinations to prevent clostridial diseases and unfortunately it is often too late when detected. For further information please consult your local vet. Tune into this podcast episode below:


For more episodes and information covered on the Beef Edge, visit the show page at: www.teagasc.ie/thebeefedge