It's important to evaluate normal and abnormal calves as soon after birth as possible. A normal calf is born from an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, should breathe spontaneously and show strong activity almost immediately after birth. Any calf born of dystocia should be considered abnormal. You must learn to recognize immediately that a calf had an abnormal delivery. This will allow you to intervene quickly reducing the chance of calf sickness or death. Important things you should monitor or evaluate on all, but especially dystocia calves are:

* Calf vigor. Just because a calf breathes does not mean it's okay. Make an estimate of calf vigor. Categorize it as limp and depressed or as making active efforts to stand. How vigorously does it breathe, how attentive to surroundings and how strong is muscular activity.

* Time to stand. A calf should stand in less than one hour.

* Good mothering attention. A calf not getting good mothering attention is not normal and warrants attention.

* Body temperature. Calves are normally born with a temperature between 103 degrees Fahrenheit and 104 degrees, and will drop to 101 degrees to 101.5 degrees within half an hour, then should stabilize. If the calf is not in the normal range 15 minutes to 30 minutes after birth, it may require heat lamps, blankets, etc.

* Active suckling. The calf should be suckling the dam within two hours of birth and have an active suckling reflex. If it's a dystocia calf you may not want to wait two hours-strip out the colostrum and nipple feed the calf. If the calf fails to suck the nipple feeder, tube feed the calf. Take action before an infectious disease like scours sets in.