By Jolly Gwari
Rearing a newborn calf can be extremely challenging and requires much patience and commitment. The key to success is keeping the calf in a comfortable environment, well-fed and free of sickness. Management greatly impacts the illness and death rates of calves. There’s no single best way to raise calves. What works on one farm may not be ideal for another farm. But you should have and enforce a newborn protocol and calf care plan that remains consistent from day to day.
Calves sometimes show signs of dehydration, depression, lack of appetite or scouring. If the calf is to survive, proper care during the first 24 hours is critical. It is essential for the newborn calf to receive colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk that a mother produces. Colostrum provides passive immunity to disease and helps build up vitamin and mineral levels. The new-born calf should get colostrum within the first 36 hours of birth either from a mother or artificial sources.
Once the calf has received colostrum, it can be fed solely on whole milk or milk replacers
Move the calf to its own hutch
Move the calf to its own hutch or pen. Generally, the calves can develop a number of different infections and diseases easily which can be fatal. So you need to move the calf to its own hutch or pen in order to keep the calf free from these infections and diseases. This will not only allow you to monitor the calf easily but also prevents multiple calves from having to compete for food when feeding. You can move the calf to its own pen after it has been with its mother for one day
and has feed 3-4 times. And the calf can be moved back to the group pen with its mother or other cows once the calf is 2 months old.
Observe the urine and feces of the calf
Keep an eye on the feces and urine of the calf while it is in her hutch. Also, observe its food intake. Observe for any changes in how much food your calf consumes, and the consistency and frequency of feces and urine production. Consult with the vet urgently, if you notice any changes in your calf.
Calf feeding practices
Clean the cow’s teats before the calf nurses or remove the calf from the cow and maternity area right away. Provide fresh, clean calf starter, milk replacer and water every day. Make sure you offer water at least twice daily. Place these outside the pen to reduce urine and manure contamination. This will also keep spilled liquid feed and water away from the calf’s bedding.
During the preweaning period, make sure the calves’ diet (liquid feed, forage, and grain) are all
high quality. Research shows poor nutrition between weaning and 6 months of age can cause
these animals to have on average on delay in age at first calving reduced growth rate and also
Increase the risk of being culled as a cow.
Allow the calf to graze
You can allow your calf to graze any grass it wants. But in case you don’t have land with grass,
then you can tie clippings of grass to the fence of the pen. But do not place the grass on the ground.
Make regular checkups
You must have to check the calf daily for signs of sickness. Check the noses of the calf. The nose should be clear of discharge and are moist and cool. Healthy calves will generally have alert and responsive ears with no infection around the ears. Their mouth should be clear of ulcers and the navels should be clear of infection. They should have shiny, supple coats and they should stand and walk normally. And the healthy calf will take food frequently.