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Technique for Saving More Newborn Calves
Published: October 22, 2021

A technique that may help to save more calves is the Madigan squeeze technique, developed by Dr. John Madigan for treating newborn foals that were depressed and inactive. The method seems to also be effective in newborn calves that are depressed and not alert. Dr. Madigan believes that passing through the birth canal squeezes the animal causing hormones to be produced that decrease inhibitory hormones that keep animals calm when still inside the mother.  However, sometimes this does not happen and additional squeezing after birth may be effective in waking up these newborn animals. 

Dr. Cassie Faull said at Bovine Veterinarian that she has had success using the squeeze technique in calves. This is a skill that you can perform on the ranch for newborn calves.  You can search for the Madigan squeeze technique on the internet to find multiple videos showing the procedure in foals. The procedure in calves is basically the same.  The procedure consists of wrapping a long soft cotton rope in three concentric loops around the calf’s chest to create pressure on the ribs.  The calf will usually lie down and enter a sleep-like state. You should maintain the rope pressure for 20 minutes, then remove the rope and allow the calf to get up.  If you have calves that are born healthy but do not appear to be rising and nursing as quickly as expected, try the Madigan calf squeeze method.  There are no side effects or complications, and you may find that this procedure helps some depressed calves to wake up and nurse more aggressively.     

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