Bovine FAQ

How long should I wait before assisting my cow/heifer if she is in active (straining) labor?

We generally only allow a cow or heifer to strain for an hour before the owner should offer assistance or call us to assist with the birthing process.

If my newborn calf has not nursed, how long can I wait to feed it colostrum?

A newborn calf ingesting colostrum (first milk) as soon after birth as possible is critical to the calf’s survival.  Colostrum contains the antibodies calves need to protect them from disease for the first few months of life.  Calves are only able to absorb these antibodies during the first 24 hours of life.  It is very important to note that calves absorb more of these antibodies toward the beginning of the 24 hour period than towards the end, so timing is of the essence.  We recommend feeding the calf the cow/heifer’s colostrum, a colostrum supplement, or colostrum replacer if it does not nurse within the first 6-8 hours of life and earlier if possible.  If you have any questions or concerns about what is best for your calf’s individual situation, please do not hesitate to call us.

My cow/heifer calved, but she has not cleaned yet.  How long should I wait to remove it?

If your cow or heifer has a retained placenta, we generally recommend waiting 72 hours before calling us to remove it.

If my animal has a prolapse, how long can I wait to have it repaired/replaced?

There are several different types of prolapses such as uterine, vaginal, and rectal prolapses.  If your cow or heifer calves and prolapses her uterus, call us as soon as possible as a uterine prolapse is an emergency.  There are two types of vaginal prolapses.  One is a precalving vaginal prolapse.  Cows or heifers with repaired precalving vaginal prolapses must be watched carefully as they may have issues when calving.  Post-calving vaginal prolapses or vaginal prolapses in feedlot animals do not require the same amount of observation once repaired, but they may reprolapse.  Rectal prolapses in cattle are usually repaired with little issue, but they may require some observation to ensure the animal is able to defecate normally.

Breeding animals that prolapse their uterus may be retained in the herd as they usually do not repeatedly prolapse year after year.  The culling of breeding stock that prolapse their vagina both precalving and post-calving should be highly considered as they generally recur year after year.

Remember, a uterine prolapse requires immediate assistance and should be considered an emergency.   All other types of prolapses should be repaired as soon as reasonably possible.  Fresher prolapses lead to more successful treatment and recovery especially during the winter months.  If you have a prolapse of any kind, please call the clinic.

When should I vaccinate my cows and calves?

We usually recommend that cows and heifers are vaccinated in the spring before going to pasture or are out on pasture and again at time of pregnancy diagnosis.  They may be vaccinated again closer to calving depending on the vaccines administered and the time when the animals were pregnancy examined.  We prefer to vaccinate calves when they are going to grass or are out on pasture and again before weaning time.  We believe that vaccinating calves while still on the cow results in less stress to the animal and an overall better immune reponse by the calves.  Remember, every herd is different, so please call us to discuss different vaccination protocols.

When should I deworm my cows and calves?

We typically deworm our cow herds twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.  Please call us at the clinic to discuss deworming options.

What kind of protein/mineral tubs should I give my cows?

We do not recommend feeding breeding cows or heifers protein/mineral tubs that contain any urea or NPN especially when they are on corn stalks with limited corn and the weather is very cold.  It takes a great deal of energy to convert urea into a usable form of protein.  If the cows or heifers are not receiving enough corn or corn by-products in their diet, they will burn body fat to utilize the urea as a source of protein which can lead to under conditioned cows and heifers.  It can be very difficult to replace the condition that is lost before the breeding season leading to fewer bred cows and heifers, so we recommend using all-natural protein tubs for your cow herd.

When should I castrate and dehorn my calves?

We recommend dehorning and castrating calves as soon after birth as possible.  It is much easier on the calves to dehorn and castrate them while they are still on the cows.


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