2019 Cow/Calf Newsletter

posted: by: Paul McCann, DVM Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Cow/calf Veterinary Newsletter




Newsletter Topics:

·         Alpha 7 vaccine at birth.

·         Ranch calving supply list.

·         Calving intervention rules of management.

·         Abortion management



Why give Alpha 7 vaccine at birth?


Many of you have adopted the management technique of giving the calf it’s 7-way vaccine at or near birth.  For those who do not, here are some thoughts:

                *If you tag your calves at birth you can do this.

                *You give this vaccine at birth and not at branding… you are just moving the vaccination time.

                *The oil adjuvant (carrier) will last until preconditioning (no other 7-way vaccine has this technology).

                *All Clostridial (7-way) vaccines should be given subcutaneously in the dewlap of the neck.

                                                (Dewlap = where you would place a brisket tag)

                *You should purchase small vials (10 ds), shake well & use clean needles to avoid vaccine lumps.

                *The cost is similar to other blackleg vaccines and with the owner administration BQA is better.

This vaccine has virtually eliminated Over-eating Disease in the herds that have moved to this program.




Bear Paw Veterinary Service Calving Supply List


This List is to help prepare the ranch for calving…not all these are absolutely necessary but it does help to have a reminder.  If you have questions on these products, please don’t hesitate to call, that is why we are here!

Sanitation supplies:

                OB Sleeves

                Liquid soap (to scrub cow and person)

                Tamed iodine solution (e.g. Povidine or Betadine solution)

                Uterine Boluses or Enema bag to flush after calving

                Fishing string or suture to tie off umbilicus if needed


                2 or 3 OB chains

                2 or 3 OB handles

                6 cc syringes

                60 cc syringes

                16 x 5/8 needles             

                Esophageal feeder or enema bag to tube feed the calf

                Clean bucket


                Cow Meds



                                                Biomycin 200 or LA200

                                                300 ProLA

                                Sedative (for calming a heifer or cow if needed)



                Calf Meds


                                                Procaine Penicillin G


                                Anti – inflammatory

                                                Banamine (Flunixamine)

                                                Meloxican tablets (1 per 30lb body weight)

                                Emergency Medications



                                                C & D Antitoxin

                                Calf Vaccines

                                                Alpha 7 (7 – way oil clostridial vaccine)


                                                Epic calf electrolyte


                                                Frozen or Fresh

Powder colostrum replacer (quality, 100gm products)



Calving Stages and Management


Allocation of time to monitor heifers and cows during this season is vital.  Four hours from the cow starting to push, to the calf hitting the ground is an average time frame.  Three to four hour interval observation checks are important but tiring; therefore, adequate staff is important.


Timely intervention is crucial.  Early assistance, especially for heifers, is linked to decreased time in labor, which improves calf vigor and future reproductive performance of the dam.  Knowledge of the stages of labor and normal time frames are essential.


Stage 1:  Cervical Dilation Stage; cow looks for isolation, vaginal mucus increases, cervical plug is passed, signs of restlessness and colic (2-6hrs).


Stage 2:  Fetal Expulsion Stage; active pushing, water breaks, calf (foot) sac appears at vulva, calf passes via the birth canal (2-4hrs).


Stage 3:  Fetal Membrane (Placenta) Passage; fetal membranes should slough within eight hours.  Don’t manually remove them.


The rules of intervention are based on these time frames and will help decide when the cow/heifer

should be examined.

Rules of Intervention:


1.       Cow in stage 1 labor > 6hrs without starting to push = examine.

2.       Cow in stage 2 labor for 2hrs and progress is slow/absent = examine.              

3.       Foot sac hanging from vulva and delivery not complete in 2hrs = examine.

4.       Feet visible with no progress within 30 minutes = examine.

5.       Interruption of normal progress of labor at any time = examine.


When it is time to examine the cow/heifer, it’s important to observe cleanliness and lubrication.  It’s best not to use soaps for lubrication as they will dry out the birth canal.  Water based lubes are best, ie. J-Lube.


If upon exam you discover the heifer needs assistance, and you are unable to deliver the calf within 30 minutes, reassess and consider calling the vet!




Cow/calf Abortion Management


Postmortems & Sample Collection:


 What if it is an infectious abortion?  What if other cows will ensue?  This is always a concern… is this a single event or a mess to follow?


This is my veterinary suggestion:  expect the best prepare for the worst.

Every abortion or unexplainable loss of animal justifies a postmortem (autopsy).  Samples should be collected if the cause is unknown and preserved.  If the problem continues these frozen and formalin fixed samples can be very useful in determining the cause.


If at the end of the calving season it was an isolated event… the samples can be discarded.  You can always throw samples away but you can’t go back and collect them.  If the problem continues, multiple samples increase accuracy of diagnosing the cause.


Many abortions are caused from the placenta becoming inflamed or infected.  Placentitis can only be diagnosed at the lab from placental tissue.  The buttons of the cow and the attachment of the calf membranes.  Many producers submit an aborted or still-borne calf but do not collect the placenta which can miss the reason of the abortion (always submit placenta if possible).

Paul McCann, DVM

Bear Paw Veterinary Service