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In SEVAI-OFI Cow project of Sirugamani, a training program was organised by Eleonore DESTANNES and Klein Ariane, OFI Volunteers on Calf Management, for the farm workers and extension personnel of SEVAI.They enlightened the salient features of calf management in a cow farm. The salient points are:
1. Birth: When birth moment is coming, place the mother in a clean and isolated area.
The time between the breaking of the bag of water (loss of water) and the birth must not longer than 3 hours. If so, the calf is in danger: call the vet. The placenta must be out in 24 hours. If it takes more time, don’t pull on it by yourself but call the vet. You can cut it with clean scissors. If the calf is stillborn, burn the body and the placenta. Keep the cow apart for 24 hours
.2. Calf’s first care- Help the calf to breath by taking out the mucus he has in the nose and the mouth.- If it is not vigorous, cold water on the neck will help waking it up. Try not putting the water in the ears.- Clean the area of umbilical cord right after the birth with water first, trying to take off the rest of the blood in the umbilical cord, then with antiseptic solution (povidone iodee). Do it again 12 hours later. Check every day during the first week if this area is not painful or swollen.- Use a belt for 1 or 2 days to protect it from flies- If the external temperature is under 25 °C, dry the calf with tissues or straw.- About the colostrums=first milk: - The udder of the cow must be clean; if it is not, clean it with water before the calf drinks. - The calf must drink in the first hour of his life- The calf must drink milk as often as he wants for the first 12 hours; if he doesn’t drink milk every 4 hours, try to help him to drink- During the first week of his life, don’t put the newborn next to the other calf or cow.
3. Environment- Every calf must be under the shelter in the shadow, in front of the feeding bucket, with a bucket of water next to him. - Two calves of around the same age share one bucket of water- Calves stay together until 12 months, after that the young female cow can go with the other cows of the farm
4. Medical evaluation
There are some signs you can watch to see if the calf is in good health or not:
- Rectal temperature:
Calf above 3 months
Young cow or bull above 1 year
If the rectal temperature is higher, it is usually an infection; if it is lower it can be severe depression of the health of the calf.- The calf must be very lively, especially when it goes to its mother. It likes to jump and run. - The calf must eat well.- The area around eyes must be clean, without drops or dirt- The nose must be clean without nasal secretions, or with few uncoloured nasal secretions- It must not cough repeatedly- The dung must be solid with a dark brown colour. It is not normal if it is liquid or light brown- The belly button must by dry after a week. It is a non-painful area. If one calf has some abnormal signs about this particularly points, you must check if it is getting worse, if it is the case, call the vet.
5. Feeding before and during weaning
Before 2 weeks
Until the 6th week
During the 6th week
During the 7th week
During the 8th week
Quantity of milk (kg/day)
Quantity of concentrate (kg/day)
Quantity of water
Quantity of green and dry fodder
- The estimated weight of the calves at birth = 25kg
· Number of milk meals: - For new born (less than 12 hours): the calf stay with the mother, he drinks as much as he wants and at least every 4 hours
- For the calf, which is less than a week: it must have 4 milk meals in a day- For the calf, which is more than a week: two milk meals during the milking are enough. Number of concentrate meals:- All the calves must have at least 2 concentrate meals.
6. Feeding after weaning and before 2 years
Green fodder (kg)
Dry Fodder (kg)
For the female calves, it must have two concentrate meals.
This feeding process must be tried and modified if you see the calves are too big or too skinny. Young cows must be a little thin, a fat young cow will be difficult to make pregnant, and can have some difficulties during the first calving.