When a calf is born premature, it is a challenge for the calf to survive. Many times the organs are not fully grown and thus the calf has difficulties in its overall functions. When taking care of such a calf you should take this into account.
A premature calf is usually a small calf with a slow functioning metabolism. Breathing is hard with lungs that are not functioning at full potential and the digestive system might also not be so well developed. This can result in the calf having troubles in digesting the milk.
When you think of all this, you realize that you need to have a different approach for such a calf. Building up resistance for pathogens is even more important because it has but little reserves. Good quality colostrum is vital.
Since the calf’s stomach is not fully developed it needs to have small amounts of quality colostrum, maybe even five or six, times a day. This way you ensure that the calf is able to digest the colostrum milk the best way it can.
You also have to realize that the swallowing reflex is not so strong, so there is always the chance of milk going into the lungs. Be prepared for that! An esophageal tube is in this situation a good thing to use, because then you bypass the throat and the calf doesn’t have to swallow then.
Another thing that is important that this calf is having trouble maintaining its core body temperature. Therefore keeping it in a dry and draft free environment is crucial. A warm place is even better if you have the means for that.
To give the calf additional support an injection with extra vitamins is always a good thing to do. This way you will give the calf a boost for its metabolism, which is important for further development of the organs and the ability to maintain its body temperature.
Premature calves, when born healthy, do have a good chance of survival if you take care of them the right way. As long as you keep in mind that it needs a different approach and you act accordingly, it will be able to grow into a normal and healthy calf. If it does get sick, my article on calf treatment is a good resource to check. Here you can find how you can treat it the best way.
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