Dairy practice

Proper Calf rearing and management tips.

Calves are the future pillars of a Dairy herd and that indicates and increases the significance of appropriate calf rearing. The choice of of substitution for culled cows will be productive when there is the availability of a good number of substitute heifers which are of good quality. This will allow for a proper and firm selection. Following an appropriate management and feeding programme can reduce the mortality rate. Good management and care can get the substitute heifers grow fast and begin early production.

Photo /courtesy

Below are some of the management tips for calf rearing.

Management before birth

Just like it is in most cases, management of calves begins before they are born. A pregnant cow is taken the martenity meadow a few days before giving birth. A maternity spot requires being around the homestead, this makes for close surveillance. The homestead should be free from physical objects and kept well watered. Signs of forthcoming birthing can be noticed from the swelling up of the udder which gets filled with milk and swollen vulva and a string of mucus that hangs from the vagina.

Management at calving

The first thing you are going to do at calf-birth is to make sure that it is breathing. If there are no signs of respiration, the calf needs immediate attention. Firstly, check and wipe off mucus from the nostrils. If breathing does not commence, hold the baby by its hind legs upside down, and dangle it a few times. Disinfect the umbilical cord using copper sulphate solution, iodine, or such other disinfectant. Sometimes calves are not able to suckle, in that case, they need to be helped to suckle colostrums at will, from the dam. This should be carried out for the first week. If there are extra colostrum, it should be milked and saved to feed the other calves. Later when a week has passed, separate the calf from the dam and feed it by hand.

Feeding of the calf

The main objective in bringing up a calf is to make sure it stays in proper health. The management responsible for feeding the calves should be instructed to take necessary steps to keep the nutrient supply good, thus advancing rumen development.

When a calf feeding program is designed, the objective should be at lessening the mortality rate of the animals while retaining a 400-500g/day growth rate. The rate of growth may, however, vary according to breeds. If its a bigger breed calf, it needs to be weaned at 3 months, when it weighs an approximate of 80kg.

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