So yesterday, I shared with you the story of one of our heifers and how she gave birth on Monday evening. I came upon them when the calf was just a few minutes old. The heifer was overloaded on new mom hormones and just a little overexcited. Well, a lot overexcited. I called Harland home from his fire dept. meeting when the heifer got too rough with her calf.
Here’s a video showing the calf just minutes after he was born. Later, Harland arrives home and takes control of the situation:
A few facts about taking care of newborn calves:
- Newborn calves need colostrum (first milk) to be healthy, but because heifers don’t have much colostrum or don’t allow the calf to nurse at first, Harland gives all our newborn calves a good dose. It’s warm and nourishing, and contains antibodies to protect the calf from disease.
- The pill he gave the calf prevents scours (diarrhea), which can be fatal in calves.
- Spraying iodine on the umbilical cord stump helps to prevent navel ill, also known as joint ill, a fatal infection that enters into the little calves body through the umbilical cords of newborns.
There’s a powerful instinct that kicks in when a cow gives birth. She wants the calf on its feet as soon as possible. Even though she and her calf may be safe in the barn, in her mind, there are predators all around ready to come in and snatch her newborn. For this reason, she is very persistent about the calf getting up on his feet. Sometimes though, especially with heifers, she overreacts and can actually hurt the calf. It was actually a good thing that this heifer nudged the calf out of her pen because she calmed down a little bit after that.
Up next, we return the calf back into the pen with his mother. But will she take care of her calf without being to rough?
Stay tuned. ….