How to Tell if a Newborn Calf Has Nursed
A newborn calf is an adorable part of the farm cycle. It’s important for both the health of the calf and the health of the herd that the calf receives the nutrition it needs from its mother’s milk. Knowing how to tell if a newborn calf has nursed can help in ensuring that the calf is receiving the essential milk it needs. Here are a few ways that you can recognize that a newborn calf has nursed:
Check for Swelling in Teats
One of the main signs that a calf has nursed is on the mother. Check the cow’s teats. When a calf nurses, the teats will swell as if it were a nipple after nursing. Immediately after the calf has nursed, you may be able to see a bit of milk at the teat.
Monitor Stool Output
You’ll also want to monitor the baby’s diet. A calf should have a daily stool output of 2 quarts or more per day. If it falls below this number, consider supplementing the calf with milk or colostrum.
Observe the calf’s behaviour. If the calf begins to preen or rest after nursing, then it is likely that it has recently nursed. Keep in mind, it may take several attempts for a newborn calf to successfully nurse, so it is important to watch a calf carefully and ensure it does nurse if it is having difficulty.
Check for Rapid Weight Gain
Finally, you’ll want to check the calf’s weight. Newborn calves should gain approximately two or more pounds a day until the age of 41 days old. If a calf is not gaining weight or not gaining fast enough, then it is likely not receiving the essential nutrition it needs from the mother’s milk.
By taking the time to check these signs, you can ensure that your newborn calf is receiving the nutritional boost it needs to thrive. Paying attention to the calf’s behaviour, stool output, weight gain, and teats can help you to easily recognize when a calf has successfully nursed.