Here’s how to make $800 in four hours

There are no better wages to be paid than helping your heifers get through calving. Know the four stages of calving and then you’ll know when to intervene if things aren’t going on schedule.

Larry Coleman DVM, Veterinarian

February 2, 2017

2 Min Read
new baby calf is highlight of spring

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:

First Hour
- Heifer leaves the herd. (Restless)
- Water bag appears.
Intervene - When no water bag appears.

Second Hour
- 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.

Third Hour
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.

Fourth Hour
- 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.

Timing matters

Time matters

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.

Related:Should you vaccinate very young calves?

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.

About the Author(s)

Larry Coleman DVM


Coleman is a large animal veterinarian in Broken Bow, Neb.

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