The Newborn Calf


During this crucial hour of a calf’s life these actions must take place. Delaying the golden hour can result in increased risk of calf disease and mortality.

v  Colostrum Feeding within two hours of calving.

v  Navel management practice.

v  Removal of the calf from cow.

v  Resuscitation of the calf may be required.

Colostrum Feeding:

Colostrum is a vital essential for newborn calves as it contains antibodies called immunoglobulins (IgG) which some of you may or may not have heard of. These are essential to build up the calf’s immune system, it also contains all the energy and nutrients which are essential for growth.

Following the 3 Q’S:


  • Only excellent quality should be fed. This should contain at least 50 g/L of IgG
  • Colostrum should be tested using a Brix Refractometer where your brix value should be <25 or above for best results. If this Brix value isn’t achieved why not check out our SCCL Colostrum Replacer which improves your Brix values and makes up more litres if you don’t have enough!
  • Ensure that you have a supply of good quality frozen colostrum, this should be stored in colostrum bags. Frozen colostrum should be from cows of known health status to use if the dam’s own colostrum is not of sufficient quality.


  • The recommendation is to give 3/4L of good quality colostrum or 10% of their bodyweight.
  • Fed at body temperature (38°C)


  • The optimal feeding time is within the first 2 hours after birth – however the legal requirement is to feed within 6 hours after birth. We recommend as soon as possible.

Navel management:

Bacterial infections via the navel are much higher when calves are born in a dirty calving environment. These infections can be prevented by adequate navel treatment such as:

  • Apply 10% iodine to the navel as soon as possible after birth, making sure it is fully covered.
  • Ensure adequate colostrum has been fed.
  • Hygiene – if a calf is born into unhygienic conditions, they often develop an infection of the navel that can spread to the rest of the body.

Removal of the Calf from the Cow:

When a calf is born, they are immediately at risk of picking up infection via the navel, mouth, and nostrils from the calving environment. To prevent this we recommend the  calf should be removed from the mother immediately after birth and placed in a clean, freshly bedded area where they can be fed the correct amount of colostrum.


Many farmers use a mucky wheelbarrow to transport their calves from one place to another. This should be avoided as there is a large number of bacteria contained in a mucky wheelbarrow.

A Calf Trolley is a great way of transporting your calves to its calf pen. This means that it’s used for one purpose and is easy to clean and easier for yourself to move about.

Resuscitation of the calf may be required:

Most calves will not require resuscitation. However calves that have experienced difficult or problemed births may benefit from this action. There are many signs of identification:

  • Premature, twins, slow calving, tight calving
  • Poor reflex (response to pinching between the hooves)
  • Lack of breathing, gasping, unable to lift head, slow sit up and will not stand

There are many ways of performing resuscitation:

Like this article?
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest