Article Summary: Raising healthy calves is essential for the sustainability and profitability of dairy farming. This comprehensive guide highlights the stages of calf rearing, from pre-calving preparations to post-calving care. Pre-calving involves ensuring proper cow nutrition, identifying high-risk cows, and collecting essential health insights. During calving, assisting when needed and closely monitoring the process is crucial. Post-calving responsibilities include raising healthy calves with adequate care and nutrition and boosting recovery rates for mother cows. Pasture management apps complement these efforts and may offer virtual fencing to ensure overall calf welfare and optimal farm management. This multifaceted approach sets the stage for a successful dairy farm.

Rearing healthy calves is a fundamental aspect of dairy farming, and as dairy farmers, no one understands it better than you. According to Meat and Livestock Australia, healthy calves ensure a sustainable future for your herd and contribute to overall farm profitability. 

However, raising healthy calves is not an easy task and is difficult to get right. To simplify the process for you, we have prepared this comprehensive guide. It includes all the stages of calf rearing, from pre-calving preparations to post-calving care. 

We'll also explain how ag-tech innovations and pasture management apps can help you revolutionise calf welfare. Let’s dig in. 

Pre-calving: Setting the stage for healthy calves

Calf care begins before the calving season, also known as the pre-calving stage. This is when you prepare the foundation for healthy calves. Here is what you need to focus on at this stage:

Cow nutrition

Before calves are born, their health depends largely on the nutrition of the mother cows. You must focus on properly feeding and managing pregnant cows to ensure calf health. Key considerations for proper cow nutrition include:

  • Providing balanced nutrition to pregnant cows.

  • Ensuring access to clean water, minerals, and vitamins.

  • Monitoring body condition score (BCS) to adjust feed accordingly.

  • Vaccinating cows to reduce disease risk for both mother and calf.

Identifying high-risk cows

The second crucial task is to identify high-risk cows. Not all cows are at equal risk during calving. Identifying high-risk cows allows special attention and care to the cows needing it. Some of the factors you need to assess to determine the risk factor include:

  • Age of the cow

  • Breed-specific traits

  • Health history

  • Previous calving difficulties

Collecting health insights

Finally, you must collect essential insights about cows' health. Gathering information about the health history of pregnant cows is crucial. This data can help anticipate potential issues and take preventive measures. While gathering health insights, consider:

  • Keeping records of illnesses and treatments.

  • Noting any signs of disease or discomfort.

  • Consulting with a veterinarian for specific health concerns.

During calving: Assisting and observing

After the pre-calving stage ends, it’s time to execute an even more well-planned strategy to ensure every cow gets the right care. This stage is more about utilising the information collected earlier, providing assistance, and monitoring the process.  

At birth

During the calving process, it's crucial to be present to assist if necessary. Some cows may require assistance due to various factors, including:

  • Large calf size

  • Prolonged labour

  • Abnormal calf position

  • Maternal health concerns

Each of these situations requires a unique solution. Make sure expert assistance is readily available to cater to all these needs.


Proper assistance during calving can reduce calf distress and prevent injuries. Here's what you can do to assist during the calving process:

  • Providing gentle assistance when needed.

  • Assisting with cow positioning if and when necessary. 

  • Ensuring calves start breathing and suckling promptly.


Observing the calving process closely is essential for ensuring the well-being of both the cow and the newborn calf. Make sure you:

  • Monitor cow and calf health post-calving.

  • Keep a watchful eye on any signs of distress or complications.

  • Observe any abnormalities in the calves' behaviour or appearance post-birth. 

Post-calving: Raising healthy calves

Your responsibilities don’t end at the calving stage. Once the calf is born, your role shifts from assisting to raising the calves into healthy cows. It involves the following crucial tasks:

Raising healthy calves

The first few weeks of a calf's life are critical. You must ensure to provide adequate care and nutrition for proper calf health and growth:

  • Providing colostrum for immunity.

  • Adequate housing and bedding.

  • Proper nutrition, including milk replacers.

  • Monitoring for disease and infections.

  • Implementing a vaccination schedule.

  • Providing a clean and comfortable rearing environment for cows.  

Boosting recovery rates

Mother cows need extra care for efficient recovery post-birth. It is crucial for their future reproductive performance. You must take the following steps:

  • Minimising stress factors.

  • Ensuring cows receive proper care and nutrition post-calving.

  • Monitoring for potential health issues and providing treatment promptly.

How pasture management apps can help the welfare of your calves

In today’s modern age, the application of technology has revolutionised dairy farming. You can streamline cow care and management from modern tools and equipment to applications and programs that provide real-time data, surveillance and tools for decision-making. This is now the norm for and at the heart of precision farming! 

Virtual fencing with a reputable pasture management app

Modern technology offers valuable tools for dairy farmers. A pasture management app is one such tool that can revolutionise calf welfare and your farm’s overall management. One of the most valuable things a pasture management app can do for you is supply you with ‘virtual fencing’. How? It utilises GPS technology to manage your cattle’s movement within pastures.

Benefits of virtual fencing

Virtual fencing can be significantly beneficial for calf welfare. The following are the key benefits of virtual fencing:

  • Allows flexibility in pasture utilisation.

  • Prevents overgrazing and environmental damage.

  • Minimises stress and injuries due to physical fences.

  • Ensures calves remain within safe zones without manual assistance.

  • Provides real-time monitoring of cattle movement.

Rearing healthy calves is a multifaceted process that starts before calving and continues through post-calving care. 

From pre-calving to post-calving stages, you must pay close attention to cow nutrition, identifying high-risk cows, assisting and observing, monitoring disease, and vaccination. By embracing modern technology, like a trusted and quality pasture management app, like, can enhance the welfare of your calves and build a strong foundation for your dairy farm's success.

Want to know more about how we can help? Contact us via the chat box here today! 

Until we meet again, Happy Calving!

- The Dedicated Team of, 2023-09-26