Critical things you need to do in the first 24 hours after a calf is born
A calf is tomorrow’s cow. From the health point of view, the life of a bovine is divided into two parts; the first 24 hours, and the rest. The first 24 hours of life of a calf is so important that it has a strong bearing on the rest of its life.
A calf not provided adequate care in the first 24 hours may succumb to diseases or will always remain weak and an under-performer, even though it has good genetic potential and is provided a good environment.
Important points to remember:
- Clean nostrils and mouth which helps the calf breathe better and help prevent future breathing problems.
- Allow the mother to lick the calf clean which promotes circulation within the calf’s body and prepares the calf to stand up and walk.
- Cut the navel cord at a distance of around 2 inches from the base with a clean instrument.
- Dip the navel (a simple smearing will not serve the purpose) in 3.5% or higher tincture of iodine solution ensuring a minimum contact time of at least 30 seconds.
- Tie the exposed end of the cord with a clean thread to close the opening.
- Repeat navel dipping after 12 hours. A poorly maintained navel is the gateway to serious infections.
- A new born calf should be given 2 litres of colostrum within the first 2 hours of birth and 1-2 litres (based on size) within 12 hours of birth.
- Many calves do not nurse adequate amounts of colostrum from their dams within the first few hours of life, and thus they may not receive adequate immunity.
- Feeding colostrum after 24 hours of birth may not help the calf to ward off infections.
- A calf must receive adequate colostrum to protect it from diseases for the first three months of its life. Colostrum is the calf’s “passport to life”.
- Hand-feeding new-born calves is therefore recommended so that the farmer is sure about the amount of colostrum an individual calf receives.
- De-worming should be done within 10-14 days of age subsequently on a monthly basis up to the 6th month.
- When the animal is 3 months old, contact the veterinarian for vaccination.
- Provide calf starter from 2-8 weeks for better growth and early maturity.