Carabao Care and Management, Caracalves



After the birth of the caracalf, the fetal membrane should be removed from its mouth and nostrils. Sometimes, some fluid may have to be drained from the respiratory tract. This can be done by holding the calf upside down by the hind legs. In some cases, breathing has to be stimulated by artificial respiration.

Within a few minutes after birth, the navel cord should be cut and dis-infected with tincture of iodine. Proper identification can subsequently be done by either earnotching, tattooing, eartagging, or putting a neckchain.

The caracalf should receive colostrums as soon as possible preferably within one hour after birth. Colostrum is the first postpartum mammary secretion of the caracow which is high in antibodies and rich in essential nutrients vital for the survival of the newly born. The surest way to provide calves with colostrums is to milk the dam and then feed the milk to the caracalf.

In backyard and ranch operation calves are normally allowed to go with their dams from birth to weaning age of 8 to 12 months depending on the condition and health of the animals. However, under commercial dairy operation with a herd Murrah or Murrah-carabao grades, calves are usually weaned 3 to 5 days after birth and are fed and trained to drink mixed milk of the herd from a pail. The calves may be put in the pens individually or in groups, nut hey should be allowed exercise in the paddack as often as possible. In backyard carabao dairy production, it is recommended that the caracalf be allowed to go with the dam for a period of 1 to 2 months before milking. Suggested feeding guides for caracalves in commercial dairy operation is presented in Table 7.

There are several methods of feeding caracalves after the colostral feeding period. Economics and practicability are the two important factors to consider in selecting the method to use. However, the feeding of high protein diet to weaned caracalves 8 to 12 months old is advisable if it is desired to accelerate growth rate to enable the caraheifer to reach sexual maturity earlier. This practice would reduce the usual delayed breeding of the caraheifer for the first time and, consequently dries its first calf earlier.

Caracalves should be fed with caracalf starter at 2 weeks of age. A good caracalf starter should contain at least 18 to 20% crude protein and 75% total digestible nutrient. In addition, it should be palatable. Starting at 2 weeks of age, the caracalves could be fed with some forage like freshly cut grass. Fresh and clean water should be provided at all times.

Some management practices essential to successful caracalf management operation include branding, castration, deworming and vaccination. These could be done all at the same time when the caracalves are about 5 months old or immediately after weaning. These operations should be done during good weather conditions, especially the months of January to June when it is relatively dry.

A sample system of numbering the calves by earnothcing.

Table 6. Suggested Feeding Guide for Caracalves in Commercial Dairy Operation (click image to enlarge)

Tips for Successful Castration Operation

1. Castrate caracalves not suited for breeding purposes when they are about 5 to 6 months old. With work animals, castration maybe delayed delayed until 4 years of age when the extra muscle development of the fore quarter manifest itself as an indication of its masculinity. Rugged fore quarters also give greater strength to the work animals.

2. Fast the carabao for at least 18 hours before castration. However, provide drinking water at all times. Fasted animals suffer less when cast down than unfasted animals with their digestive system distended with feed. Also hemorrhage is lessened if they have been fasted sufficiently before hand.

3. Casting down the carabao before castration is necessary. Sudden fall which may cause injuries to the animals must be avoided.

4. Castration can be done either by the slit or the bloodless method. The slit method actually is the removal of testicles by making an incision on the bottom portion of the scrotal sac. The bloodless castration method, on the other hand, is done with the use of the Burdizzo pincer. The spermatic cord or the blood vessel that supplies the testicle are crushed. The slit method is highly recommended for a humane castration operation.

5. Proper disinfection before and after cutting through the scrotum is a good measure to prevent infection. Tincture of iodine maybe used as a disinfectant. Application of pine tar to the wound repel flies as well.

Branding Tips

1. The branding irons should preferably be made up of copper. This metal retains heat longer than iron and does not rust.

2. The brand to be used should be simple in design for clear print. Branding numbers should be 8 cm in height and letters be 10 cm. Handles of branding iron should be at least 76 cm long for easy handling. Two official brands are usually required: the municipality’s brand to be placed on the left hip and the owner’s brand on the right.

3. Additional brands are exclusively at the discretion of the owner. The bran indicating the year the animal was born is of particular importance especially for steers since age influences their market value. The herd number identifies the different animals in the ranch.

4. Before branding, the animal should first be car down. The animal should be properly restrained to avoid unnecessary damage to the hide which could lower its market value.

5. Heat the brand until it is ash gray in color (bluish). With a steady and firm grip, apply the brand to the desired place. The branding pressure should be steadily regulated to prevent deep branding.

6. Apply pine tar to the wound to eliminate the flies problem. Branding iron should be heated ash gray in color.

For more information, contact:

Livestock Division
Department of Agriculture
Regional Field Unit No. VII
M. Velez St., Cebu City

Philippine Carabao Center
5/F DCIEC Bldg. NIA Complex
EDSA, Quezon City
Tel: 921-3863
Email: [email protected]

The publication of this guide was made possible through the Livestock Division of DA-RFU-VII. May this serve our clientele at its best. – Eduardo B. Lecciones, Jr., Regional Executive Director

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