FG BUY&SELL        FARMERS WEATHER       ARABLE FARMING        DAIRY FARMER      FARMERS GUARDIAN        AGRIMONEY        OUR EVENTS        MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS        BLOGS        MORE FROM US

You are viewing 1 of your 2 free articles

You’ll need to join us by becoming a member to gain more access.
Already a Member?

Login Join us now

Calf health: Preventing acidosis in newborn calves

Insights

Calves which are weak or ‘dopey’ after birth could be suffering from acidosis, says David Gibson, a veterinary investigation officer with SAC Consulting.

Twitter Facebook

He explains calves can often suffer from acidosis following a prolonged calving, which can lead to oxygen deprivation, and ultimately weakness in the calf and an inability to stand.


“During an uncomplicated calving, the oxygen supply to the calf from the placenta stops when the calf is delivered. This results in a temporary increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the bloodstream which acts as a trigger to make the calf start breathing.


“The act of breathing ‘blows off’ the CO2 and restores the normal levels of oxygen. Where calving is prolonged the oxygen supply becomes impaired and CO2 levels rise without the calf being able to blow off the CO2 by breathing. This forces the calf into a state of acidosis which can last a long period of time depending on the nature of the delay in calving.”

Mr Gibson explains human athletes can experience a similar problem following a hard-run race; once the running has stopped, the oxygen demand of the muscles decreases and they are able to breathe deeply, so oxygen supplementation is received and muscle cells return to their normal metabolic function.

 

“Calves which experience a prolonged calving have no way of addressing their acidosis, placing them at risk of longer-lasting and more severe effects of acidosis, including stupor, coma and death.

Frustration

“Calving difficulties are almost inevitable in commercial cattle production and many producers will be familiar with the frustration of calves with no vigour which are unable to stand after an assisted or prolonged calving.

 

“The extended periods of recumbency in these calves often predispose them to other problems. A delay in suckling colostrum places the calf at risk of hypothermia and malnutrition as well as insufficient uptake of protective immunity from the dam. Lying down for long periods also places the calf at risk of navel infections and generalised septicaemia.”

 

However, he says there are ways of dealing with calves which are experiencing acidosis.

 

“The first and most simple action is to ensure the calf is breathing as soon after birth as possible. Commencement of regular breathing will help to blow off the CO2 in the bloodstream and start the process of recovery, however, often this is not enough.

 

“The second step is to reverse the acidosis by administering intravenous sodium bicarbonate. This will quickly elicit a marked improvement in demeanour and reduce the time it takes for the calf to stand.

 

“It is important to ensure the calf is breathing well before administering sodium bicarbonate as there may be a temporary increase in blood CO2 levels.

Treatment

“However, a 2005 study did not encounter any side effects in acidotic calves following treatment with bicarbonate.

 

“Using bicarbonate to treat acidotic calves should be discussed with your vet in advance of the calving season and should form part of your herd health plan.

 

“Prompt action following prolonged calvings will improve survival rates in affected calves and should help to reduce the incidence of neonatal calf disease in these animals as well.”

 

Twitter Facebook
Rating (0 vote/s)
Post a Comment
To see comments and join in the conversation please log in.

More Insights

Prevent milk fever by testing calcium levels

Data collected by James Husband of Evidence Based Veterinary Consultancy (EBVC) Penrith, from 15 dairy farms, found more than half of cows had low calcium levels post-calving.

Getting sand bedding right

Sand is only one option available for bedding dairy cubicles, posing its own challenges and benefits. Laura Bowyer visited Richard Chewter at a quarry in Hampshire.

Making better use of grass and improving fertility are keys to survival

Ireland’s dairy industry has made substantial improvement in on-farm performance and national output over the past 10 years. Ann Hardy reports from the Ireland Genetics UK Dairy Conference. 

User Story: JCB conversion gets to work

Launched at last year’s Lamma show, Knight Farm Machinery’s forward-control conversion, based on JCB’s latest 4000-series Fastrac, has been hard at work this year with Agrii. Geoff Ashcroft reports.

Driving calf growth

Since attending a series of AHDB Dairy Calf to Calving events, Andrew Wallis and Tony White have implemented a number of changes. Farmers Guardian reports.
FG Insight and FGInsight.com are trademarks of Briefing Media Ltd.
Farmers Guardian and FarmersGuardian.com are trademarks of Farmers Guardian Ltd, a subsidiary of Briefing Media Ltd.
All material published on FGInsight.com and FarmersGuardian.com is copyrighted © 2016 by Briefing Media Limited. All rights reserved.
RSS news feeds