Custom Search

Care and management of calves and strategies to reduce the mortality in rural are


         Calves form the future dairy herd

         It is said that good animals are raised, not purchased.

         For maintaining efficiency of production, it is necessary to replace about 20% cows with freshly calved heifer cows.

         Mortality rate of calves in rural areas is 30-35%

Pre-partum care
Feeding management of the cow during pregnancy

         In the first six months of pregnancy,the additional nutrients needs to the cow is less due to foetal growth is negligible.

         But during the last 2-3 months of gestation the foetus grows rapidly for which it draws a significant quantity of nutrients from the mother’s system.


 Growth of the foetus.

 production of colostrum with high nutritive value which in turn influence the growth of calf.

Maintenance of the cow.

Care of the cow at birth

         Usually a daiay cow will carry her caly a period of 282 days. (avr.of 27-290 days)

         In handling advanced pregnant cows, care should be taken to prevent them from injured by slipping on floors or by crowding through doorways,or by mounting cows or bulls that are in heat 

Signs of approaching parturition

Owner should not allow animals grazing outside by observing following signs

Animal leave the herd and seek isolation.

         Loss of appetite and distress

         Distention of teats and udder.

         Dripping of milk in the teats.

         Vulva becomes enlarged and flabby.

         At the first sign of calving, the front feet of the calf appears first, then the nose

Post partum care

         Remove the mucus from the nose and mouth.

         If the calf does not start breathing,artificial respiration should be used by pressing and relaxing alternatively, the chestwalls with hands.

         Hold the calf by the rear legs and lift from the floor with the head down. This helps in restoring respiration.

         Take a piece of straw or grass and tickle inside the nostril. The calf will sneeze and expel the mucus.

Umbilical cord

         Navel of young ones is very important as infections gaining entry thro the navel at the time of calving can cause serious ailments like navel ill, joint ill etc, which can debilitate and cause mortality.

         Put a ligature 2cm away from the body with a sterilized thread and cut 2cm distal to the ligature using sterilized scissors.

         Apply tincture iodine to the navel and dust with boric acid powder.

Cleaning of udder

         The teats and udder must be thoroughly washed with

         KMno4 or

         chlorine solution of strength 200mg or

         neem leaves boiled in water.

         This will give a good antiseptic wash.

Colostrum feeding

         A healthy calf able to get up on its own in 20-30 min and manage to reach the udder with in 30 mins.

         Colostrum is the first secretion produced by the cow just after the birth of the calf.

         It is highly nutritious and deep yellow in colour.

         Be sure the calf gets colostrum atleast for min of 48 hours and max of 96 hours.


         It contains large amount of gamma globulins (Abs) which protects the calf against diseases.

         It has a laxative effect.

         The intestinal mucosa easily absorbs the antibodies.

         It contains 5-15 times the amount of vit-A found in normal milk.

         It contains many nutrients essential for the growth.

Quantity of colostrums

         The rate of milk feeding should be 10% of the calf’s weight per day.

         2-2.5 litres of colostrum should be provided daily for 3 days.

         If scouring occurs, the milk allowance should be reduced to ½ or less until the calf recovers.

Colostrum substitutes

         When no colostrum is available, the substitude is:

Ø  2 hen’s eggs whipped together with

Ø  1 tablespoon full of fresh cod-liver oil and

Ø  1 tablespoon full of castor oil with

Ø  0.5 gram streptomycin.


         The indigenous cows and buffaloes have strong maternal instinct and in the presence of the calf lets down milk.

         If weaning has to be done, it is good to blind fold the cow or buffalo at calving time and take away the calf immediately without her seeing the calf.

Pail feeding of calves

         The required quantity of boiled milk is poured in clean and dry pail after cooling to room temperature.

         The pail is moved to the calf so that  the milk touches its muzzle.

         The calf is trained by allowing to suckle the fingers of the operator.the fingers are then lowered down below the milk in the pail by keeping the calf to continue suckling the fingers in it.

         When the calf touches the milk, the fingers are slowly removed.

Feeding calf starter

         It is the first concentrate mixture fed to calves.

         It should be high in energy (75% TDN and 15-20% DCP)







wheat bran








min. mix



20 g/100 Kg


General mamagements
dehorning the calf


         To handle them easily

         To avoid injury to attendants

         To avoid injury to horns due to butting

          to avoid injury to udder and flanks when animals fight with one another.


         Dehorning was done at before 10 days old.


         Chemical –caustic potash



         Removing extra teats

         Extra teats beyond the normal four are not harmful but they disturb during milking.

         They are removed within 4-6 weeks of age.

Identification of the calf


         Tattooing-hot iron branding

         Freeze branding- done at 6-12 months of age. Dry ice of 70c for 40-50 sec.if liquid nitrogen is used for a shorter period.

         Temporary ear tags

         Neck chains

Castrating the bull calf


         To prevent reproduction

         To increase faster gains

         To produce a more desirable type of meat

         To make the animal docile

         Easier to handle


         8-10 weeks


Calf mortality

         Mortality rate was higher in buffalo calves than in cow  calves

         Among buffalo calves mortality rate higher in male calves.

         In case of cattle mortality rate high in female calves.

         Buffalo calf mortality high in sep-feb.

         Calf mortality high during the first 3 months of age (60%).

Reasons for calf mortality

         Immaturity of their immune system,calves are more susceptible to inf. diseases.

         Low level of colostrum feeding in calves results in high mortality.

         Monsoon born calves have better survivability, due to  high  availability of green fodder results in more milk production in calves.

         In monsoon area the predisposing factors of heavy rain, high humidity and temperature are ideal for spread of disease thro insects. 

Major disease problems in calf

         Calf scour-E.coli

         Gastro-enteritis (Toxocara vitulorum)

         Diarrhoea & Dysentry – Coccidiosis

         Pneumonia – Winter months

         Septicaemia, Naval ill & Joint ill

         Infectious diseases like FMD, BVD,HS,RP,BQ

         Theileriosis-More fatal in calves than adults.

         Unhealthy and unsanitary housing conditions- External parasites.

Strategies to reduce calf mortality in rural areas

         Advance cows should be kept in separate pen to avoid unusual injuries.

         Over crowding should be avoided.

         At calving stage cows should not be let for grazing. If calving occurs in forest area or grazing land possibility of harmed by wild animals.

         Difficult for the grazerto bring nemly born calf.

         Sometimes abnormal calving posture of the foetus veterinarian help is needed.

         Don’t allow advanced pregnant cows for grazing in the hilly area. If animal falls abortion may occurs.

         Purchase healthy & good animals for heavy calves.

         Feeding sufficient amount of colostrum within 30 min is essential.

         Avoid excess amount of milk to calf results in diarrhoea. If cow dies provide colostrum from other cows.

         Calf pen should be properly disinfected with 10% phenol.

         Arrangement of cross ventilation in calf pen.

         Gunny bags put over the calves during the night hours in winter months, to protect the calves.

         Deworming the calves once in a month up to 6 months, 3 months interval thereafter.

         Vaccination of calves between 4-6 months.

         Control of ectoparasites.

         Isolation of sick calves from healthy ones.


Make a Free Website with Yola.