Assisting a Calf after a difficult birth

Prolonged or difficult birth?

Take these immediate actions to help calf recovery:

1) Clear excess fluid/mucous from the nose and mouth

2) Recovery Position  – see picture – on sternum with rear legs pulled forward as props, nose down to drain fluid from nasal cavity.  This position aids chest expansion and fluid drainage from the nasal cavity.

3) Tickle or pinch inside nostril – tickle with a clean piece of straw/grass/stick.  This will help stimulate breathing as well as sneezing to further clear nasal cavity.  You can purchase calf respirators to have on hand for emergencies.

4) Vigorous rub and dry

and of course when your calf is breathing comfortably  – plenty of high quality colostrum ASAP.  If your calf has had a rough entry to the world it may struggle to source enough colostrum from its mother so the best option for health of the calf is often to bottle or tube feed the required colostrum.

Note:  Hanging or swinging a calf has been shown to not help with recovery.  The fluid which drains in this manner is from the stomach not the lungs.  Fluid in the lungs can be absorbed if not too much has been aspirated.  The important area to drain is the nasal cavity and this can drain in the recovery position.  Hanging or swinging pushes the abdominal contents onto the diaphragm making it harder for a calf to breath.