Veterinarian gives calving tips to local cattlemen

Bulkley Valley Veterinarian Michael Des Harnais shared calving advice with 30 local cattlemen during the cattlemen's annual meeting Jan. 12.

Bulkley Valley Veterinarian Michael Des Harnais shares calving advice with 30 local cattlemen in Houston Jan. 12.

Bulkley Valley Veterinarian Michael Des Harnais shared calving advice with local cattlemen during their annual general meeting in Houston Jan. 12.

The Pleasant Valley Cattlemen’s Association, a 26 member group of local ranchers, is run by elected directors and meets once a year.

This time of year ranchers are getting ready for the calving season, February to March for most ranchers, said Linda Dykens, president of Pleasant Valley Cattlemen’s Association.

Harnais, veterinarian at Houston’s Driftwood Veterinary Clinic, was at the cattlemen’s meeting to share calving tips with the thirty ranchers who attended.

The key in the cattle business is healthy cows, healthy calves and a strong bond between them, says Harnais, adding that good calving management will help that success.

Harnais listed things that show a cow is having difficulty calving and talked about what a rancher can do to help, when they should pull a calf and how to pull a calf.

When a cow has a prolapsed uterus, ranchers should cover the uterus with a wet towel, place it in a plastic bag and call a vet, said Harnais.

If a cow has a retained uterus and doesn’t look sick, just monitor them, but if they look sick they should be given antibiotics like Liquamycin or Excede, Harnais said.

Harnais says a calf’s first milk, called colostrum, is probably the most important thing for a calf, because calves aren’t born with an immune system and they get all their antibodies from the colostrum.

Harnais says studies show that calf sickness is very connected to them not getting colostrum, and even if it doesn’t show right away, sooner or later it will catch up with a calf.

“Diarrhea, naval ill, join ill, pneumonia, septicaemia are usually associated with colostrum intake – too little or too late,” said Harnais, adding that ranchers should milk the cow and stomach tube the calf if necessary, and if you want to use commercial colostrum, Headstart or Calf’s Choice Total colostrum are the best.

If a calf gets minor hypothermia, stomach tube warm colostrum to the calf and move it to a warm area, but if the hypothermia is more more major, it may need to be put in a “hot box,” said Harnais.

Weak calves who take more than 15 minutes to sit themselves comfortably may have acidosis and should be stomach fed colostrum, he said, adding that if there is no improvement after six hours they may need IV fluids to correct the acidosis.

If a calf has diarrhea and is acting slightly depressed, stomach feed them Calf Lyte HE twice daily and you can give them Trivetrin, but Newforce isn’t the best choice because it doesn’t penetrate into the gut, Harnais said, adding that if a calf has diarrhea, is dehydrated and depressed, and is not sucking, they need IV fluids and antibiotics.

If a calf has a naval infection they may need Nuflor or Resflor, or you could give them Excede, and if they are not feeding they they should be stomach fed electrolytes, and electrolytes should not be mixed with milk, Harnais said.

The Skeena Regional Cattlemen’s Association, which includes cattlemen in Houston, Smithers, Burns Lake and west of Smithers, will hold their annual general meeting Feb. 2 at the Houston Community Hall, with guest speakers, auctions, a trade show, and dinner and entertainment.