Calf Care Quick Tip: Newborn Calf Resuscitation

Posted on December 26, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Dr. Sheila McGuirk, professor emerita, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine
Have resuscitation supplies close to the birthing area. The tools needed are simple:

  • Clean, dry towels
  • Pieces of straw 4 to 6 inches in length
  • 60cc syringe
  • Ice water

When to be concerned
You should be concerned if two minutes have passed and the newborn calf has not raised its head or shown any activity.  A normal calf should raise and shake its head within minutes of delivery and be able to sit up within five minutes.

Resuscitation procedure

  • Attempt to get the calf in a sitting position.
  • With a clean, dry towel, vigorously rub the topline of the calf from the tailhead to the head. Then use the towel to aggressively rub the head, especially around the eyes and ears, to stimulate breathing.
  • Take a piece of straw and put it up the nostril to stimulate sneezing. Alternatively, use the straw to prick the nasal septum (tissue between the nostrils), which stimulates an acupuncture site that may stimulate breaths.
  • If the calf is still unresponsive, fill a 60cc syringe with ice water and squirt it in the ear. An alternative that may not be as effective is to pour 250 to 500cc of ice water over the poll of the head.

Category: Animal handling
Animal health
Starting Strong - Calf Care