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close this bookBetter Farming Series 11- Cattle Breeding (FAO - INADES, 1977, 63 p.)
close this folderHow cattle reproduce
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe reproductive systems
View the documentPregnancy and birth
View the documentAge of breeding animals
View the documentCastrating bulls
View the documentChoosing breeding animals
View the documentHow to know your herd

Pregnancy and birth

· When a cow carries a calf in its womb, we say she is pregnant. Pregnancy begins with fertilization and ends with the birth of the calf. It lasts about 9 months.

When a cow gives birth to a calf, it is called calving.

· If the cow has already had a calf, she must not feed this calf more than 5 or 6 months after the new fertilization. The calf she is carrying needs more food. The cow cannot feed the calf in the womb and give milk at the same time.

· Some days before the birth, the cow's udder swells.

At the time of birth, part of the membranes which cover the calf in the womb comes out. These membranes contain water. Next you see the legs of the calf come out, either the two forelegs or the two hind legs.

Sometimes it is necessary to pull downward a little on the calf's legs, to help the birth.

After the calf has come out, if the umbilical cord still joins the calf to the cow, cut it and clean it well. You can use a little iodized alcohol.

After the birth, the rest of the membranes come out. All the membranes must come out. Otherwise they may rot inside the cow and cause her to die.

At birth the calf may come out in two ways

When the calf is born, the cow rubs it with her tongue. She licks it. Let the cow lick her calf.

At this time the cow is often thirsty. Give her water to drink. During the first few days after the birth, the mother's milk is thick and yellow. The calf must drink this milk which will clean its digestive tract.

Take great care of calves. They are delicate. They easily catch parasites. To protect them, give them a medicine to get rid of internal worms at the age of 3 weeks and of 10 weeks. They easily catch diseases. To protect them, have them vaccinated.

At 3 weeks, the calf begins to eat grass with a little cooked cassava.

Look after young calves well. Feed them well, give them good housing. If you do not, they may die and you will lose a lot of money.