Umbilical cord healing

The umbilical cord serves as a conduit for the blood supply between the foetus and the placenta throughout pregnancy, providing the necessary nutrients for the development of the foetus during intrauterine life. The cord ruptures during the birth process, leaving an umbilical stump that becomes a potential route for pathogen entry into the newly born calf or lamb, increasing the risk of omphalitis and septicemia.

Umbilical infection also reduces total body weight gain during the first 3 months of life. Preventive measures for umbilical infection encompass maternity pen hygiene, decreased residency of the newborn in the maternity pen, adequate colostrum management, and antiseptic umbilical cord care.

Careful and consistent umbilical cord care substantially decreases calf/lamb mortality. Appropriate antimicrobial solutions applied to umbilical cord within 30 min of birth are protective against umbilical cord infections.

Iodine is the most commonly used antiseptic compound in the dairy industry. The antiseptic properties begin to decrease approximately in 15 min after dipping, but remain evident for several hours.

Umbilical cord care, as a good practice at farm level, is very effective to promote health and welfare to newborn lambs and calves, which are less likely to need antibiotics for any possible infections.