Managing calves or calf management is a crucial thing in a cattle farm (cows farming). Because the calves are rearing to replace the stock in future. If the calves are not well managed it affects for your future profits through the farm. They are really helpful to expand your milking herd if you are a dairy farm manager. Therefore, it is very important to manage the calves very carefully by following all the management practices correctly.
Actually, the calf management should begin before the parturition. The mother of the calf should provide with better feeding, vaccinations, housing other facilities in order to have a healthy calf.
But through this article I am going to discuss some of the important points regarding post parturition of the calf up to weaning the cattle from the mother. Normally the mother of the calf is given the name dam.
Why we need to manage the calves?
As mentioned already calf management is very important as they are the replacement stock of the herd. They are the future of your farm helping to expand your farm and the milk yield. Thereby it helps you to improve your profit from the farm.
So, they must be very vigorous and should be healthy. Only when the calf will be able to give birth to a young calf at the correct age.
How to take care the calf just after birth?
There are few things that you should take care just after the birth of the calf. Then only you can have a healthy and a vigorous calf.
You should allow the mother or the dam to lick the calf or you should dry the calf well. Should clear all the mucus also and remove the placenta. You must help the calf to breath easily. You can do it by raising the calf from the hind legs, by rubbing and can tickle the nostrils. In addition, you have to tie the naval cord about 1centimeter below and should disinfect it with iodine. So, that there will no infection occurs.
Better protection should be given to protect the calf from wind, rain and other environmental factors. If needed you have to assist the calf to suck the milk from the mother’s udder. Should direct the calf towards the udder.
Colostrum is the first secretion from the mammary gland. The composition of the colostrum differs from the whole milk. it is not suitable for the human consumption. The calf should definitely feed with this colostrum. Because it is rich with many nutrients that need by calf at the early stages.
The calf should feed with the colostrum within first 1-2 hours after parturition. Maximum within 6 hours the calf should feed with colostrum. Colostrum contains higher percentage of immunoglobulins. The calf should feed with colostrum quantifying about 10% from the birth weight of the calf. The calf should allow to suck the milk from the cow three or four times within first 24 hours after the birth.
Methods of Calf Management
There are mainly two methods of calving
- Leaving the calf with the dam/ natural feeding
- Hand-rearing/ artificial feeding
Leaving the calf with the dam/ natural feeding
In here the calf is keeping with the dam, the mother. The cows can directly suck the milk from the dam or from the foster mother. This is the easy method of rearing the calf. But this is coupled with some disadvantages too. You can’t calculate the milk yield of the cow accurately and for milk let down need the stimulation from the calf. Here you cannot regulate the milk amount receiving by the calf too.
Hand-rearing/ artificial feeding
In here after the first day or two the calf can feed with the whole milk or the skim milk. you can use a bucket or a bottle with a teat to feed the calf. The feeding milk should be with a temperature equal to the body temperature of the calf. The calf should feed 2 times per day and the amount should be 8-10% from the body weight up to 4 weeks age. After that you can use a milk replacer.
When feeding the whole milk up to 7 days the calf should feed around 3 or 4 times per day. After that the calf should feed twice a day.
In here it is very easy to count the exact milk production of the cow. As well you can easily regulate the milk amount for the calf. But here you have to teach the cow on drinking from the bottle. Sometimes some directive disorders and contaminations can occur.
If you are rearing the beef cattle for milk then no need to remove the calf from the mother.
Weaning is the removal of the calf from the dam or from feeding the whole milk. With this weaning the calf can get use to feed on the dry matter. Normally weaning is doing when the average body size of the calf reaches 2 times than the birth weigh or when the body weight is of 10-12% of the mature body weight. Normally it is 8 weeks after the birth. The other managing practices of the like housing, vaccination and things should also be done very carefully to raise your calves healthily and vigorously.