Calving time goes smoothly in nearly all cases. But when things don’t go right, when should you intervene? Here’s a quick checklist to follow:
- Heifer leaves the herd. (Restless)
- Water bag appears.
Intervene - When no water bag appears.
- Heifer up/down, pushing with great force.
- Feet/head appear - rupturing water bag.
- Continual progress - fetus appearing.
- Failure to progress in this hour means an exam should be made by end of the second
Intervene - When no progress is being seen with the fetus.
- Calf is born and tries to stand unless hypothermia (cold) is a problem.
- Heifer gets up, licks calf.
- Heifers often have delayed maternal instincts, may need to be separated together.
Intervene - When calf does not stand or heifer is not interested in calf.
- Calf fully stands - unless problems have developed . (Hypothermia?)
- Suckles mother to get colostrum. 10% of body weight is ideal consumption by 4 hours of life .
- Process is complete.
Intervene - When calf has not fully suckled.
All four stages are based upon time. Failure to make progress to the next stage is the signal for possible intervention. You can trust luck with heifers or you can be very intentional with assisting and helping a heifer. I always prefer the later.
There are no better wages to be paid than those in assisting heifers calve. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or first timer to the heifer calving game, don't hesitate to call your local veterinarian if you have any issues this calving season.
Coleman is a large animal veterinarian in Broken Bow, Neb.