I feel like my teachers all know calving season is here. Through readings and discussion along with background knowledge I have furthered my knowledge of calving. In both my Animal Science and Veterinarian Science classes we have gone over what you are supposed to look for in a new born calf over the past week. With the double dipping of class objectives I have learned it and reinforced it.
I knew there was the rule of thumb that calves have to suck for the first time in the first 24 hours, but I never really knew why. I never really thought about it much because that’s what grandpa said so it had to be right. But being in college and pushing my mind to learn why has taught me that the stomach in more porous in the first 24 hours allowing the immunoglobulin from the mother to enter that baby’s body. This allows that calf to receive antibodies that the mother has already built up; boosting the immune system of the calf immensely. These passages in the stomach close up after 24 hours to ensure that the calf will not past something it shouldn’t.
But as most farmers know you are not always going to get this luck to where the calf will suck. Then there is another option if the cow that just had the calf will not claim it. You can use a different cow to take it on as its own baby. My vet teacher always uses the example of using his dairy cow as the “fake mother”. He says this as worked for years on his own personal farm, and he recommends that every farmer has one dairy cow for the supplement mother.
But most of farmers to not have this option on their operation. So there is still yet another option for you farmers that have a mother problem. This is a risky one but it is better than the final solution according to both of my teachers. You should contact a dairy farmer because they usually freeze the colostrum from their cows. This is a risky one because you have the chance of bringing in other disease that were not there before. The one we talked about most was Johnes. This is a whole other topic for a different day, but it is a very interesting disease that you should look into if you don’t know much about it.
But then if none of these solutions have worked and you are in a real bind then your best bet is to use the store bought powder. Both of my teachers said this should be that last on the list, but when you need a fix it is always there.
Let me know what your thoughts on colostrum and newborns are!