Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Calf management: birth and beyond

Contributor(s): Mike Reynolds , Ash Phipps

Introduction

  • The perinatal period is the most hazardous in the life of all animals, with more than 60% of producers reporting that the majority of their calf mortality occurs at birth.
  • Rapid identification and intervention of calves at risk of perinatal mortality is required to prevent subsequent losses.
  • High risk calves can be identified in the following ways:
    • Before birth, by the predicted likelihood of suffering from dystocia.
    • During birth, by large forelimbs, swollen tongue, cyanosed muzzle and gums.
    • After birth by apnea or dyspnea, lateral recumbency, flaccid musculature and poor pedal and suck reflexes.

Management at birth

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Navel management

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Colostrum management

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Birth management specific to farms with Johne's disease

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Subsequent management

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Animal identification and record keeping (UK)

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Hulbert L E & Moisa S J (2015) Stress, immunity and the management of calves. J Dairy Sci 99 (4), 3199–3216 PubMed.
  • Lorenz I, Mee J F, Earley B & More S J (2011) Calf health from birth to weaning. I. General aspects of disease prevention. Irish Vet J 64 (1), 1-8 PubMed.
  • Lorenz I, Earley B, Gilmore J, Hogan I, Kennedy E & More S J (2011) Calf health from birth to weaning. III. Housing and management of calf pneumonia. Irish Vet J 64 (1), 1-9 PubMed.
  • Murray C F & Leslie K E (2013) Newborn calf vitality: Risk factors, characteristics, assessment, resulting outcomes and strategies for improvement. Vet J 198 (2), 322-328 PubMed.
  • Nagy D W (2009) Resuscitation and critical care of neonatal calves. Vet Clin Food Anim 25 (1), 1-11 PubMed.
  • Godden S (2008) Colostrum Management for dairy calves. Vet Clin Food Anim 24 (1), 19-39 PubMed.
  • Mee J F (2008) Newborn dairy calf management. Vet Clin Food Anim 24 (1), 1–17 PubMed.
  • Stull C & Reynolds J (2008) Calf welfare. Vet Clin Food Anim 24 (1), 191-203 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • DEFRA (2107) Guidance on Keeping Cattle, Bison and Buffalo in Great Britain (2017). Website: www.gov.uk. Last accessed 11th May 2017.
  • Constable P (2012) How to Prevent Calf Deaths after Correction of Dystocia - Beef and Dairy. In: Proc Australian Cattle Veterinarians Conferenc. pp 99-102.


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