How to know when a cow will calve

All about cow calving: How to know when a cow will calve?

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 cow for cheese making. 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 cow calving it can be a little overwhelming.

Hopefully, when your cow was mated you were present and know the month that 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.

1.Calving and knowing the due date:

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 enlarging of 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 weight and take time to grow a little.

2.Calving and the week before:

In the last week of before cow calving there are obvious signs known. The 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 signs.

3. 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 ribs are 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.

4.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.

5.During the calving:

During cow calving the cow will stand or lie down as often 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 and baby.


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