• Jin Gan

The First 15 Minutes Of Calf's Life

The first 15 minutes of calf's life is very important. Our role is to assist at birth in a way that supports the outcomes nature intended and avoid unnecessary negative things.


  • As the cows are giving birth, many physiological processes occur.

  • If the calving is progressing well, it is best to continue monitor the cow and give it time to delivery naturally.

  • When the cows delivery naturally, they pause for a few moments after the calf's rib cage passes and takes its first breaths of air.

  • At that moment, the placenta transfer its blood supply into the calf via the still-intact umbilical cord.

  • This step provides an increase in blood volume to the calf which helps with the oxygen transport and plasma to help keep the calf hydrated.

  • Even if you assist with the delivery, you can copy this process by pausing after the last rib is delivered to allow placental blood transfer to occur.

  • The calf should start trying to breathe on its own as soon as the last rib is delivered and exits the birth canal.

  • Then, the cow stands and the back end of the calf exits, the umbilical cord will sever.

First breaths

  • Getting the calf to breathe immediately after birth is crucial and it is the most effective way to clear fluid from the lungs.

  • It helps to promote successful breathing and oxygen absorption.

  • We can help the calf sit up on its sternum by tucking the front legs under the body.

  • We can also poke the nostrils with clean straw and splashing cold water in the calf's ear to encourage first gasp.

  • The calf will absorb excess fluid over time, so the priority should be to clear any fluids from nostrils and mouth and ensure that the calf starts breathing immediately.

  • When it comes to stillbirths, do not give up so easily. Some calves may be born not breathing but still have a heartbeat.

  • Resuscitation to start breathing may be necessary.

Drying and warming

  • In cold weather, use a clean and dry towel to dry off the calf and fluff the hair coat.

  • In moderate temperature, allow the mom to do that job which naturally stimulates the calf.

  • Use warming boxes with extreme caution.

  • Warming boxes serve as a reservoir for harmful bacteria, which will invade the calf at its most vulnerable immune state.

  • Using warming box for too long will also burn off the calf's fat reserve, leaving it vulnerable to survive the transition.

Colostrum delivery

  • All antibodies and other immune factors are delivered to the offspring via colostrum.

  • It is important to feed at least 3 - 4 litres of high quality colostrum within the first 2 hour of the calf's life.

  • The sooner, the better. Use Brix refractomer of 22 or higher to determine if the colostrum is high quality.

  • You may consider using high quality colostrum containing 150 grams of immunoglobulin G per dose.

  • To prevent calf from ingesting harmful bacteria, do not allow them to nurse the dam

  • Keep the maternity pen area and bedding as clean as possible.

  • Make sure colostrum feeding equipment is in clean and good condition.

  • One tip is to designate a quantity of sanitized bottles, nipples and esophageal feeders to use only for colostrum feeding to newborn calves.

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