Producers are still suffering losses at calving, many of which are avoidable.
The second stage of normal calving, which ends when the calf is born, should last between 30 minutes
Speaking at the course in North Moreton, Oxfordshire, Mr Black said: “Research suggests 90 per cent of calves which die around birth were alive when calving began, with the major causes being trauma and oxygen deprivation. Much of these losses are preventable if the right measures are taken when calving difficulties occur.
“If a calf has a difficult birth it is likely to have reduced early intake of colostrum, resulting in poorer absorption of the essential maternal antibodies and will be at greater risk of picking up disease. It may also have difficulty maintaining body temperature after birth. A dam which experiences a difficult calving is more likely to have fertility issues in the future.”
Mr Boon explained the use of EBVs could contribute to ease of calving. “Genetics can play an important role in the calving ease within your herd. It can influence birth weight, gestation length and calving ease of the calf and the mother,” he said.
“For example, by using birth weight EBVs, sires can be selected to produce smaller calves at birth, which will increase the ease with which it is calved.”
By using birth weight EBVs, sires can be selected to produce smaller calves at birth, which will increase ease with which it is calved
Mr Black said an optimal calving requires no assistance and the calf should be ‘standing within five minutes and suckling from its mother within 15 minutes of birth’.
Generally, intervention is required if:
When trying to establish the cause of calving difficulties, Mr Black told the group to first check whether the birth canal feels normal, feel if the cervix is fully dilated, feel for the position the calf is in, check if the calf is dead or alive and gauge an estimation of the calf’s size.
“When thinking about intervening it is important to be patient. Paying attention to hygiene and using plenty of lubrication is essential.”
Mr Black recommended, after intervention, pain relief should be administered to the cow and she should be checked for another calf and for tears of the uterus. If the calf was moved from the birthing site it should be returned to minimise chance of rejection, as the birthing fluids are important in the mother accepting the calf, especially in heifers.
Webinar: To watch a webinar on normal calving and how and when to intervene, visit www.youtube.com/c/AHDBBeefandLamb