[The Brazil Times nameplate] Partly Cloudy ~ 73°F  
High: 74°F ~ Low: 49°F
Friday, May 6, 2016

Caring for the new additions

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Within the last few weeks, my family's farm has acquired several new additions.

I have also heard of several area farmers talk about having their own new additions to care for. These new additions are often bright-eyed, muscular, adventurous newborn calves.

However, sometimes, these new additions are weak and lifeless. No livestock producer wants to go out to the barn in the morning to find a lifeless newborn, so here are some helpful hints that cattle producers might want to be aware of.

The overall precautions provided in these hints can be applied when caring for other newborn livestock.

Everyone is aware of the cold temperatures, wind, snow and icy conditions we have been having in Indiana. Those conditions are hard on newborn livestock. Therefore, it is important that prevention is taken to prevent the newborn calf from getting frostbite or freezing to death. The biggest factor that can contribute to frost bite is wind. Thus, it is important that calves and other newborn animals are protected from the wind. While protecting them, try to prevent them from lying on snow, ice or even the cold, frozen ground. That is because while they are lying there, they will be losing much more body heat than if they are resting on dry bedding.

If you do find yourself having to deal with a cold calf or another newborn animal with frostbite or hyperthermia approaching, take note of the following suggestions. Try to thaw the tissue as quickly as possible since most of the damage from frostbite occurs during thawing. One approach to quickly warm a calf is by placing it on the floor board of a pickup truck with the heater on high. Another approach that I have used on lambs is using a hair dryer. By using the hair dryer, you are both warming the animal and drying it off, which is important. If the animal is not wet, but is cold, you can try using a heat lamp.

There have been times when using a warm water bat to warm a very cold calf quickly has been used, but be careful with this approach, because sometimes, it can result in death.

Finally, once you have the animal thawed and in good condition, take special precautions to prevent it from being impacted by the cold again.

Besides worrying about whether or not your new addition is protected from the weather, you should also be worried about whether or not it is receiving colostrums.

Colostrums is considered "the first milk" that the calf should consume after birth. However, it is actually more similar to blood than milk. It helps the calf maintain and generate the heat it needs. It provides them with immunoglobulns, which help prevent infection. It is important to make sure that your newborn is nursing from its mother within two hours after it is born. If you don't see it nurse, try to get the animal up and assist it with the nursing process to ensure that it receives colostrums.

Occasionally, it is difficult for a newborn to receive colostrums. Some of the reasons for this include the animal is cold or wet, dystocia (difficult birth), unusually large newborns, and lengthy births. With cattle, it is important that the calf receives at minimum two quarts of colostrums within the first six hours after it is born.

Then is should receive an additional two quarts within the next six hours.

This time of year is very exciting when you live on a farm or have friends or relatives who own livestock. That is because you never know for certain when you can walk out to the barn and find a new addition stumbling around the pen investigating its new home. However, it is important to realize that your new addition has several needs and it is your obligation as its owner to care for them. Please remember to keep your newborn livestock protected from the harsh winter weather (especially the wind) and ensure that they receive colostrums within the first few hours of their life. If you have any questions or concerns about agriculture, horticulture, or natural resources, please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly via e-mail at smith535@purdue.edu.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* March 3 -- Regional Goat Meeting, 6:30 p.m., Greencastle Courthouse Annex,

* March 12 -- Purdue PARP Program, 8;30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Equipment Technologies, Inc., in Mooresville. (Call 812-829-5020 to register),

* March 13 -- The Gardeners' Gathering Spring Seminar, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Terre Haute. Cost $30, and

* March 15 -- Owen County 4-H Enrollment Deadline.