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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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VIDEO: ‘A calf should attempt to stand within 15 minutes’

According to Elizabeth Marvel, calf specialist at Milk Specialities Global Animal Nutrition, once a calf is born, and you have ensured it is breathing, the next step is to evaluate the vigour.

She said that a calf should be moving body heath within minutes, meaning the extremities and the nose should start to feel warm.

“A calf should begin to sit sternal within five minutes. It should attempt to stand within 15 minutes, and be standing within an hour,” she explained in a video on YouTube.

She said that if a calf fails to make any of those signs for overall vigour, a farmer may need to take additional steps.

“If the calf is not breathing, you could take a piece of straw and poke its nose horizontally to hit the sensitive cartilage in there. That will stimulate the calf to breathe.”

“The next step could be to take the trachea in your hand and sternly shake and grasp to try to stimulate a cough, which will also induce the breathing.”

“If a calf has excessive liquids in their upper respiratory tractor, we can lay them sideways on a bale of straw and allow the head to drape over the straw bale. This allows gravity to take place and the liquids to flow out of the membranes.”

“Other additional steps that you can take to increase vigour involves taking towels and vigorously rubbing calve. Start at the tail head and move towards the head.”

“When you get to the head, you can make additional focus on the head and nose,” she added.

Dipping navels

In the video, Marvel also discussed the benefits of colostrum and dipping navels using iodine solution.

This particular company advises dipping instead of spraying as you “can get a shadowing effect and not cover the entire umbilicus”.

“It is important to get the umbilical cord and stump, but nothing else on the body needs to be covered,” she said.

“You can do this by placing the umbilical cord into the cup and allowing the umbilical stump to dip slightly into the iodine.”

“If you have a particular problem with navel infections on your farm, re-dipping the naval at 12 hours can be beneficial in cutting down on navel infections,” she concluded.

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