Sometimes when a calf is born, often after a difficult birth, they have difficulty breathing at first.
This is why you need to be on the scene early to intervene. The Moocall Calving Sensor ensures that you are able to be on the scene in good time, not only to assist the cow in calving, but to help revive the calf.
Find out more about it here: http://www.moocall.com/products-moocall-sensors.
There are a number of things you can do to help in this case: ‘christening’ them, ‘hanging’ the calf, stimulating their nostrils with a bit of straw, and more.
However, while you may intervene to help the calf, there are things you can do that could potentially harm them too.
Here are some tips to avoid that:
1: Don’t hang the calf for more than 1-2 minutes.
While it’s generally safe to hang the calf to drain the fluid out of their lungs, don’t do it for too long. This cause labour and stress for the calf. Some even say not to do it at all.
2: Don’t swing the calf around
Lots of people do this to clear fluid out of the calf’s lungs, but it is a no-no. Doing this just puts the lungs under pressure from the weight of the gut. While fluid might come out of the calf’s nose and mouth, it isn’t all the lung fluid. Instead, this discharge is mainly is made up of stomach fluid which is beneficial to the calf.
3: Don’t hang the Calf over a gate
Similarly to swinging the calf around, the steep angle brought about when you hang a calf over a gate will cause pressure on lungs and loss of beneficial stomach fluid. Pick a sloped surface instead.
4: Don’t leave them on their own if they are weak
Don’t trust mother nature too much, she’s cruel. Leaving the calf alone after a difficult birth, or if they’re having trouble breathing is risky. They might not just come around.
5: Don’t leave them lying flat on one side
This is an inefficient way for the calf to breath and let their lungs expand. A better way is to make them sit with the front legs bent on either side of the chest
6: Don’t use dirty straw or gloves when you stimulate the calf’s nostrils
This could encourage disease at a point where the calf has not developed any immune system. Be sure to prevent this from happening by keeping a fresh bed of straw in your calving pen at all times.
7: Don’t leave the calf soaking wet when you ‘christen’ them
Sometimes, a farmer may pour cold water over a calf’s head or into their ear to bring on a cough or a shake of the head to help clear the lungs.
However, you shouldn’t just leave them once you do this, especially in difficult conditions. Calves are much more susceptible to chills if the weather is cold, frosty or snowing. Dry them off with a towel if you can.
If the calf is dry it will have a layer of air insulation. If it isn’t, the calf’s energy reserves are used to supply heat.
Do you know anyone who has accidentally done more harm than good when trying to help their calves? Tell us in the comments!