Our cattle producers have to be patience. Nine months (283 days) is a long time to wait for a calf. After the long wait, you want everything to go smoothly. It can be very frustrating to struggle with sick calves and calving issues. Preparation is the key!!!
You need a solid vaccination plan for all breeding stock.
Heifers should have modified live virus vaccine with Lepto, at least 2-3 months prior to breeding. They should also receive a 7-way clostridial vaccine prior to breeding age. It is also recommended to give heifers a series of two 'Scour Vaccines'... this is a killed vaccine that provides coverage against Rota, Corona, Clostridial Perfringes, and E.coli. Cows should have a modified live virus boostered prior to breeding annually, or a killed virus given at either pregnancy check or a 6-8 weeks prior to calving. Modified live virus should not be given to pregnant cows. (Whole other topic but, modified live vaccines near breeding can have affects on ovaries as well...) Cows should also have scour vaccine boostered annually, these are labeled to be boostered 6-8 weeks prior to calving. Control of internal and external parasites must also be addressed.
Other things to watch... Nutrition!!! This is very important for the cow and calf health. Make sure cows are in good body condition throughout pregnancy. Lots of people run cows on cornstalks, make sure they are getting adequate protein supplementation. Thin cows, poor weather, poor energy source... will crash at the end of pregnancy.
For calving time.... Be prepared!!!
Supply list: OB sleeves
1 gal OB Lube (preferred over Jlube, in case c-section is required)
OB Chains (quality)
Sled for warm water bath
Current VPCR with your veterinarian if emergency arises!!
Calving.... When to intervene... Heifers have the most problems... many are size related. Heifers and cows can have abnormal presentation (position of calf exiting birth canal), torsion (twisted uterus), deformed calf, or extra large calf (club calves/ show calves).
1st Stage of labor: Timing is variable. Uterine contracts begin. Cervical dilation.
2nd Stage of labor: 1/2 hr to 2hrs in length. Feet enter birth canal, water bag breaks, stronger abdominal contractions, calf is expelled. If significant straining and no visible water bag or feet, and no progression with time.... intervene.
3rd Stage of labor: Immediately following birth, with expulsion of fetal membranes. Usually over in 2hrs to 24hrs. If cow has not cleaned in this time frame, no need to intervene unless cow is visible sick, it will pass in a few days.
Newborn calves... They should be up and nursing within 2 hrs of birth. Calves have a naïve immune system, they rely on colostrum for all of their immunoglobulins. Previous thinking was, colostrum absorption was readily absorbed, by the gut, for the first 24 hrs of life.... now studies show at 24hrs, about 10% is absorbed. THEY NEED COLOSTRUM WITHIN THE FIRST 6 HOURS OF BIRTH... absorption plummets after this.
When to supplement colostrum... ANY ASSISTED BIRTH, calf was pulled or delivered via c-section, twins, dam death, poor dam-calf bonding, cold/wet conditions. They should receive 120g-180g of IgG within the first 2hrs. Normal birth, and calf still not nursing within 2hrs, supplement. Colostrum can be repeated at 6-12hr post calving if still not nursing.
ADEQUATE COLOSTRUM IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR CALF!!!
If you have managed to keep the newborn warm and get colostrum in... your next struggle is to get them through the first 7-14 days. Clean, dry space and adequate nutrition are a must. Calf scours (diarrhea) and respiratory infections can be a problem in the newborn stage. Problems usually get worse a couple weeks into calving season. The environment gets more saturated, as you get more calves and wider ages. You can research ways to keep newborns and older calves separate and how to minimize disease shedding. The "Sandhills Calving System" principles are excellent.
Big contributing pathogens to GI system... cryptosporidium, rotavirus, coronavirus, E.coli, clostridials. Respiratory... IBR, BRSV, PI, Pasteurella, Mannheim.
Newborn products for calves (that we carry):
Tri-Shield- Rota, Corona, E.coli paste to administer in first 24 hrs
First Defense Bolus- Corona, E.coli bolus to administer in first 24 hrs
Calf-Guard- Rota- Corona Vaccine. Should be given before nursing/colostrum
Nasalgen PMH- Intranasal Respiratory vaccine
Inforce 3- Intranasal Respiratory vaccine
Vision 7- Clostridium chauvoei, Clostridium septicum, Clostridium novyi, Clostridium sodellii, Clostridium perfringens Type C and D
Vision CD- Clostridium perfringens Type C and D
Alpha CD- Clostridium perfringens Type C and D
Please contact your veterinarian to set up a protocol that fits your operation!