Lesson 6 Calf Management

Calf management includes

  1. Neonatal calf care (Just after birth).
  2. Colostrum feeding.
  3. Housing and environment.
  4. Weaning.
  5. Diseases management.
  6. Vaccinations.


Neonatal calf care (Just after birth)

  • Almost 75% mortality happens within first hour of parturition.
  • Therefore immediately after the calf is born few tasks must be takes place.
  • First access the vital organs of calf to ensure it is alive.
  • Check its breathing.
  • Heart rate and movement.
  • Clear the calf’s air passageway for normal breathing by the help of straw or fingers.


Colostrum feeding


  • Calves are borne with few or no antibodies with immature immune system.
  • Full immune system develops within five to eight months.
  • Due to weak immune system, calves are more susceptible to harmful pathogens and diseases.
  • In order to enhance immune system colostrum feeding is important because it contains antibodies.
  • Feeding colostrum throughout first 24 hours ideal to ensure they received many immunoglobulins.


Housing and environment


  • Stress free environment.
  • Physical and behavior comfort.
  • Cleanliness should be maintained.
  • Should be housed separately to avoid disease transmission.
  • Well ventilation.
  • Thermal comfort calves should be kept in environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Feed and water should be easily accessible.




  • Weaning is a critical point in calf’s life because the amount of stress occurs during this period.
  • Weaning is suggested when calf is able to eat one kg of feed daily.


Diseases management


  • Due to poor immune system, many diseases may affect calves.
  • Diarrhea and scours are most common diseases, which occurs in less than 30 days of age.
  • There are few vaccines which preventing diarrhea.
  • Immunity from colostrum is most effective to protect calves.




  • Due to calf’s immature immune system, effective vaccination is essential.
  • Vaccines are administered intranasal because nasal passage is major pathway for entry of pathogens.
  • Different vaccines are given for those diseases that mostly occur in young calves.


Care of Newborn Calf

The  golden  hour: The  first  hour  after  calving  is  the  most  critical  period  in  the entire  life  of  new born calf.


  • Clean nostrils and mouth which helps the calf breathe better and help prevent future breathing problems.
  • Allow the mother to lick the calf clean, which promotes circulation within the calf’s body and prepares the calf to stand up and walk.
  • Tie the naval cord with a thread at a distance of around 2 inches from the base and cut the remaining cord with a clean instrument.
  • Dip the navel (a simple smearing will not serve the purpose) in 7% or higher tincture of iodine solution and repeat after 12 hours.  (Do not use teat dip or weaker iodine solutions).
  • A poorly maintained navel is the gateway to serious infections.
  • A newborn calf should be given 2 liters of colostrum within the first 2 hours of birth and 1-2 liters (based on size) within 12 hours of birth.
  • Many calves do   not   nurse adequate amounts of colostrum from their dams within the first few hours of life, and thus they may not receive adequate immunity.
  • Feeding colostrum after 24 hours of birth may not help the calf to ward off infections.
  • A calf must receive adequate colostrum to protect it from diseases for the first three months of its life. Colostrum is the calf’s “passport to life”.
  • Hand-feeding newborn calves is therefore recommended so that the farmer is sure about the amount of colostrum an individual calf receives.
  • De-worming should be done within 10-14 days of age subsequently on a monthly basis up to the 6th month.
  • When the animal is 3 months old, contact the veterinarian for vaccination.
  • Provide calf starter from 2-8 weeks for better growth and early maturity.


Example of a simple calf starter (approx. percentages)

Maize-52 % ; Oats -20 % ; Soya bean meal -20 %; Molasses -5 %;

Salt ­-0.5 % ; Minerals (Macro & Micro) -1.5%; Vitamins -1%

                                           Timely care of newborn calf will ensure its survival