Cow Calving; How to
Know when a Cow
calving and knowing when your cow will calve is important
because it can mean the difference between the life or death of your
calf, cow or both. So therefore it is important to know what to look
out for when your cow is about to give birth. Cows are very much like
humans, all different with different problems.
Many people dream about the good life and homesteading
and also would
like to own a milking
. However, this
also means that the cow has to be mated on a regular basis and she will
eventually have her calf or sometimes calves if there are twins. When
you are placed in a situation like this without having any knowledge of
it can be a little overwhelming.
Hopefully, when your cow was mated you were present and know the month
the calf is expected. It is also hoped that your cow was mated with a
bull of either the same cattle breed or size. You would have lots of
problems if your Jersey cow had been mated with a large Hereford bull.
Calving and Knowing the
Knowing the month of the
calf's due birth makes things a lot easier and
if you are
vigilant you will be able to follow the progress. One of the first
signs of cow pregnancy will be the cow's increase in appetite and
the udder. The enlarging
of the udder usually happens at 7 months. If
you are still milking your cow, she should be dried off 6 weeks before
the calving. If
your cow is very small, it is even better to dry her
off at 12 weeks before the calving to allow her to put on
take time to grow a little.
Calving and the Week
In the last week of before cow calving there are obvious signs now.
abdomen is distended, milk veins under the stomach can easily be seen,
often in a v-shape under the belly. The backside of the cow becomes
loose and the udders start to swell. Also the ribs won't be that
visible and increased feeding with a heavy dropped stomach are other
24 Hours before Calving
Within 24 hours of cow calving the cow will move very slowly, dragging
her back legs slightly or walking with a rolling gait. The
also more evident now as the stomach has dropped. As much as two days
before the calving process your cow will start looking for a quiet
calving spot away from the rest of the cows or farm noise. So look out
for this type of behavior in looking for that quiet bush or tall reeds
to hide in.
Hours before Calving
Within the hours of cow calving the cow is acting strangely, often
restless and a white transparent membrane is often seen weeping from
the back passage. Within an hour or so of seeing this you
will see the
calf's hooves appearing. If the hooves are in the proper position they
should be coming out together, one on top of the other and facing
downwards. If the hooves are facing upwards this means trouble because
it means that the calf is either upside down or back to front - both
conditions need a vet.
During the Calving
During cow calving the cow will stand or lie down
as she feels
comfortable and her moving between these two positions is quite normal.
As soon as her waters break she will sniff the area and start mooing as
she believes that the calf is somehow there.
However, when the
contractions come thick and fast and she is ready to calve the cow will
lie down and start pushing.
With the hooves emerging first the head
follows, and then the shoulders. Because this is the broadest part of
the calf this is the most difficult for the cow and she may take her
time during this process.
Once the calf is finally out the cow will
lick the calf vigorously getting rid of the membrane covering the calf.
Licking the calf is
important in cow calving as it stimulates the
calf's blood flow and it will also form an important bond between mum
Mum will often moo and the calf will answer and
try to stand
on its wobbly legs. Within 20 minutes it will be up on its feed and
start feeding from his mum.
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