Newborn calf care: Preventing navel infection
Similar to many birthing preparations, the calving area should be clean. A calf born in an unclean area is likely to be at a higher risk for infections such as navel infection, also referred to as join ill.
The calf's navel is its lifeline prior to birth. Bacteria can enter a calf's circulatory system by way of the navel into the liver. Always make sure the navel is not exposed to MUD--Manure, Urine and Dirt.
Carefully wash the area removing any impurities and apply an appropriate navel dip product. Application of a 7 percent tincture of iodine solution, also known as navel dip, will help ward off infections.
What is navel dip?
Navel dip is an alcohol based solution containing iodine. In the event of an emergency, rubbing alcohol may be temporarily used in its place.
Navel dip works in three ways:
1. It washes away dirt and acts as a sanitizer.
2. The strong iodine alcohol solution kills germs and pathogens by coating the cord from the tip to the belly on contact.
3. The alcohol base of the dip aids in drying up the umbilical cord; thus, speeding up the rate of closure. This prevents infectious agents from going up the cord and into the calf's body.
Navel dip should be applied to both the umbilical cord (the portion hanging out of the body) and the navel area (the opening in the stomach wall where the cord comes out of the body).
Examine the calf's navel every day for two weeks. Look for swelling, drainage, a painful response or foul odor, as these may be signs of a possible infection. Consult your herd veterinarian if there are concerns.
These procedures are inexpensive, simple and will pay off in terms of reducing calf mortality, morbidity and even future treatment expenses.