Profit Tips: Minimize the impact of dystocia on newborn calves

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Jason Lombard with the National Animal Monitoring System and Frank Garry at Colorado State University have published recommendations for assisting dystocia calves. They say some simple interventions can help newborn calves adjust to life outside the uterus, especially those from a difficult birth.

Their suggestions include:

• Remove mucus from the upper airway via suction or positive pressure ventilation.

• Position calves sitting upright on their sternum.

• Stimulate respiration by poking the nostril with a piece of straw; vigorously rubbing calves’ bodies; administering positive pressure ventilation; and/or administering oxygen. Positive pressure ventilation and oxygen administration can be achieved using an Ambu bag device.

• Dry calves immediately after birth and provide clean, deep straw bedding to prevent heat loss.

• In cold conditions, provide supplemental heat via a heater or hot water bottle; or immersing calves in hot water. Calves may need supplemental heat for up to 24 hours.

• Once calves are breathing normally, administer high-quality colostrum.



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