Module 4. General dairy farm practices

Lesson 7


7.1 Introduction

Calving is a critical period for both the cow and calf especially the first calves as they are in experienced. Care of the calved animal and new born is essential in order to protect the calf from inclement weather to reduce mortality and to maintain the milk production of the calved animal. The expected date of calving record should be maintained in order to separate the animal 2 weeks before the enert of parturition and kept parturition in calving pens. A separate bedding and comfortable space with feeding and water arrangement is a must. The calved animal is to be washed properly and offered water and udder cleaned for suckling of calf with in half an hour after birth. The calf should be taken care by providing colostrum, milk, calf starter, legume fodder etc for good growth.

7.2 Care of the Animal Calving

The animal in the advanced stage of pregnancy should be separated from the rest of the animals and placed in the maternity or calving room separately two weeks before the expected date of calving. Check the flooring of the calving pens, which should not be slippery. The floor should be well bedded. Care should be taken to provide water at all times. Two weeks before calving administer calcium intravenously to prevent milk fever in case of high yielder. An attendant should be kept watching the animal. Just before calving, there will be sinking of the croup region. Once the animal starts calving it will show the symptoms like frequent standing and lying down positions. There will be swelling of the udder, vulva region and discharges are noticed. The animal will make peculiar sounds to deliver the calf. Normal birth process takes place around two hours. As a first sign the two front feet of the calf should appear followed by the head of calf. Any abnormal presentation should require assistance by a veterinarian immediately and also in cases which requires more than two hours for calving. Immediately after calving the external genitalia, flank region, tail region should be washed with clean water. The cow should be given adequate amount of water immediately after calving. Once the calf is delivered, the cow will lick its body to make the body of calf warm. If it does not lick, mucous discharges around nostrils should be removed and the body of calf cleaned with clean cloth or with the paddy straw. Normally the placental membranes will fall off within 2 to 4 hours after birth and disposed of properly. Care should be taken to avoid ingestion of placenta by the cow.

7.3 Management of Neonate

Care of calf or Neonate starts when the calf is in the womb of mother. Cows that have been properly fed during the dry period produce up to 25 percent more milk and fat than cows not conditioned. A 0.5 kg gain in body weight per day during the dry period seems to be optimum for satisfactory milk production in ensuring lactation. Immediately after calving the cow licks the body of the calf. If it doesn’t happen, remove the mucous discharges from the nostrils. Clean the body of the calf with clean cloth or handful of paddy straw and make the calf dry. If the umbilical cord is not cut, put a ligature 2-3 cm away from body. Cut the navel 1 cm away from ligature with clean scissors. Apply tincture of iodine to the navel cord to prevent infection. Provide clean and warm environment for the calf.

Colostrum should be fed at rate of 8 to 10% of body weight for first 2 to 3 days. Gamma globulins are transferred from mother to calf through colostrums. It works as resistance system for the calf against diseases in the early stages. Colostrums is highly nutritious. It is slightly laxative and prevents constipation. If the calf is weak to drink milk on its own, it is assisted by holding it up to its mother and pour milk into its mouth. The calf is fed with whole milk for a period of 10 to 14 days.

After this, the whole milk may be substituted with skimmed milk, partially in the beginning and completely after two months. The calf should be fed according to its weight, at the rate of 1 kg milk for every 10 to 12 kg body weight per day. Milk replacer is given after 2 weeks of calf age to replace milk. Milk replacer which is, highly digestible should contain minimum of 22% total protein or 20% digestible protein and 10% fat. When calf are raised on limited milk, balanced high energy protein concentrate mixture called as calf starter can be fed from 2nd week onwards till 90 days of age.

A calf starter with 20% protein would be give better growth but it must not contain less than 16% DCP and 70% TDN. A 100 kg Calf starter can be prepared with the following ingredients.

Maize – 50, Ground nut cake – 30, Wheat bran / Rice bran – 8, Fish meal – 10, Mineral Mixture – 2

Besides these, Calves should be fed with good legume grasses or early cut green fodder from second week onwards. This will stimulate rumen development and establishment of rumen microbes. The ideal feeding schedule of calves in general for obtaining optimal growth is as follows.

Colostrum - 3 to 5 days

Whole milk -6th to 40th day

Milk replacer -41st day to 90 days

Calf starter -2nd week to 90 days

7.4 Care and Management of Heifers

Well grown and developed heifers are the best foundation stock of a Dairy herd. The female calves after six months of age should be raised separately. Rate of growth is maximum until puberty and then decreases until maturity . Raising of heifers is aimed at

1. Maximum growth and development of heifer
2. Earliest maturity
3. Raising heifer at minimum cost and getting early returns
4. Obtaining good milk yield in first lactation.

Management of heifers can be done in two ways

1. Outdoor system.
2. Indoor system.

7.4.1 Outdoor system: The heifers are raised mainly on grazing conditions rotationally on pasture plots containing legume grass. They are to be shifted from one grazing field to another. Concentrate feeding can be provided through feed troughs centrally located in the grazing field.

7.4.2 Indoor system: Heifers are kept in the sheds with adequate shade. They should be provide with good quality hays along with the concentrates. The green forages should be fed free of choice and of good quality. Under good conditions of feeding and management a crossbred has to attain minimum of 250 kg to be considered for breeding.

7.5 Management of Dry Cows

The pregnant dry cows should be housed in a comfortable paddock and least disturbed .The management of the dry cow is aimed at

1. To give rest to cows udder and recoup its condition lost in previous lactation.

2. Repair and regeneration of secretary cells of udder.

Cows should be properly fed during dry period in order to produce 25 % more milk than which are not conditioned. A 0.5 kg gain in body weight during dry period is optimum for satisfactory milk production in ensuing lactation.

7.6 Management of Milch Animals

Management should be aimed such that there is high proportion of milch cows in herd at any given stage. The managemental practices for higher milk production for longer periods include

1. Feeding balanced ration especially making available good quality green fodders round the year

2. The herd can be divided into high yielders, medium yielders and low yielders and feed them accordingly

3. Providing clean and comfortable houses

4. Prevention of possible management stresses by

A) careful handling and movement of stock,

B) avoiding over stocking,

C) grouping of cows according to age or production,

D) protection of high yielders against thermal stress conditions of summer,

5. Maintenance of high reproduction efficiency in herd.

7.7 Management of Bulls

Bulls should be kept in prime breeding condition by providing them with good rations. The young bulls should be trained for handling and leading. Mature bulls are to be feed daily about 1 kg hay and 0.5 kg concentrate per 100 kg body weight. Growing and mature bulls should be regularly exercised so as to remain in thrifty condition. Excess fatness in mature bulls should be avoided as it reduces libido. The breeding bull should never be allowed to run with herd.

Last modified: Tuesday, 9 October 2012, 10:01 AM