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  • Jin Gan

The First 15 Minutes Of Calf's Life

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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