Care of new born calf is crucial for both the calf and the farmer. Proper care during the early days of a calf’s life sets the foundation for future health and productivity. In this article, we will discuss the essential aspects of care for newborn calf
Colostrum, the first milk produced by the cow after giving birth. It is rich in alpha and gamma globulin (antibodies) essential for body immunity. It acts as laxative and expels the muconium which is toxic one. It is important to ensure that the calf receives an adequate amount of colostrum within the first few hours of life. A newborn calf should consume at least 10% of its body weight as colostrum within the first 12 hours.
. If the mothers’ colostrum is inadequate, farmer can use colostrum replacers or supplements
Housing and Environment
Newborn calves should be provided with clean, dry, and comfortable housing. A well-ventilated barn or calf pen can be suitable options. The housing should protect the calves from extreme weather conditions. Adequate space must be provided for movement. Bedding material such as straw or wood shavings should be used to ensure cleanliness and prevent the calves from lying on wet surfaces.
Nutrition and Feeding
In addition to colostrum, newborn calves require a balanced diet to support their growth. After the initial colostrum feeding, they should be transitioned to a milk replacer or whole milk. The milk replacer should be of high quality. It is essential to provide the calf with clean and fresh water at all times, along with access to starter feed when they are a few weeks old.
Healthcare and Vaccinations
Regular health checkup practices should be implemented. This includes routine vaccinations, deworming, and monitoring for any signs of illness. Consult with a veterinarian to develop a vaccination schedule and to address any specific health concerns. Early detection and treatment of diseases can significantly improve the calf’s chances of recovery.
Hygiene and Sanitation
Proper hygiene and sanitation are essential for preventing the spread of diseases among newborn calves. Regularly clean and disinfect feeding equipment, housing, and any other areas where the calves are kept. Practice good biosecurity measures, such as wearing clean clothing and boots when handling the calves, to minimize the risk of introducing pathogens.
Weaning is the process of transitioning the calf from a liquid diet to solid feed. It is typically done when the calf is around 6-8 weeks old. The timing of weaning may vary depending on the individual calf’s growth and development. Gradual weaning is recommended, where the calf’s milk or milk replacer is gradually reduced with starter feed. This allows the calf’s digestive system to adjust to the new diet.
Monitoring and Record-Keeping
Keeping track of the calf’s growth and health is essential for effective management. Regularly weigh the calves to monitor their growth rate and adjust their feeding program accordingly. Maintain records of vaccinations, treatments, and any health issues observed. This information can help identify trends and make informed decisions regarding the calf’s care and management.
Caring for and managing newborn calves requires attention and a proactive approach to their health and well-being. By providing proper nutrition, housing, healthcare, and maintaining good hygiene practices, you can give your calves the best start in life. Do no forget to consult with a veterinarian for advice and to address specific concerns related to your calf management practices.