You've reached the Virginia Cooperative Extension Newsletter Archive. These files cover more than ten years of newsletters posted on our old website (through April/May 2009), and are provided for historical purposes only. As such, they may contain out-of-date references and broken links.

To see our latest newsletters and current information, visit our website at

Newsletter Archive index:

Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Cow That Loses Calf At Birth Could Save Others

Livestock Update, March 2000

John Hall, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, Virginia Tech

When a cow loses a calf at birth, it is always a great disappointment for cattlemen. However, this cow can still be useful and help save calves. The first thing you should do is get this cow up and milk her out. It takes a good head gate and a helper, but it can be done. Store the colostrum in pints or half pints in the freezer.

Cows will continue to produce antibodies in their milk for the first 48 hours, but the concentration will continue to decrease. So, you can milk a cow several times to get more colostrum. However, be sure to label the colostrum as first milking or second milking. Use the first milking the first time you feed a weak newborn calf. Remember they need to get colostrum within 12 hours of birth and preferably by 4 hours after birth.

You may want to consider buying a commercially produced maternity pen. If you want to build your own maternity stall, take a look at some of the good commercial ones to get an idea how to construct the nursing panel and other special parts.

Visit Virginia Cooperative Extension