By Barry Whitworth, DVM / Area Food/Animal Quality and Health Specialist for Eastern Oklahoma
The initial overall physical strength and good health of a newborn, referred to as calf vigor, is very important to the future health of a calf. In order for a calf to thrive, it must accomplish several things within hours immediately after being born. The calf must be able to sit up (sternal recumbency), stand, locate the teats and nurse. Any delay in nursing will have a major impact on the calf’s future since the immunoglobulins that are present in a cow’s colostrum are best absorbed in the first four hours of life.
Immunoglobulins are what protect a calf from disease causing agents, and the absorption of immunoglobulins rapidly declines 12 hours after birth. Calves that are vigorous at birth have a much better outlook on a healthy future than those that are less vigorous and are not able to stand and nurse soon after birth.
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