We are soon going to be getting into beef calving season, and with the extra cold temperatures we have been experiencing this winter, it may be harder to get calves active after birth. Here are a few tips to keep in mind this season – including a surprising boost you can get at the gas station!
Pain Medication: NSAIDs (Anafen, flunazine/banamine, or metacam) can greatly improve outcomes (weight gain, suckle reflex, overall vigor) if given to calves directly after a difficult birth. If calving involves prolonged periods of delivery or requires positional manipulation, it is a good idea to give pain medication to the calf.
Recovery Position: Calves often come out and are flopped on their sides - however, the most ideal position for calf recovery is sitting them in sternal (upright on their chest) with their back legs pulled up towards their ears (see picture). This position allows for both lungs to work to their maximum potential and keeps the airway open - this allows for better oxygen perfusion than if a calf is laying on one side - which prevents the downside lung from expanding fully. After sitting the calf in this position, you can work on other resuscitation methods (straw up the nose, cold water in the ear or a resuscitation device).
5-Hour Energy – a Caffeine Boost: A surprising addition to your calving kit can be the inclusion of caffeine shots (most commonly seen as “5-hour energy”) you can find at your local gas station! While caffeine can be overdosed, proper use of the stimulant can be very helpful for increasing calf vigor. Calf expert Dr. Sheila McGuirk outlines a protocol for reviving a dull or cold calf: an initial dose of 200 mg by mouth. A 5-Hour Energy shot usually contains 100-200 mg of caffeine. She says calves can receive a single dose followed up with a second dose within a 24 hour period. They can receive it again in the next 24 hours.