A calf must be born in a clean calving area. If it isn’t, it is at a higher risk for a navel infection, also called joint ill.
The navel is the gateway to the liver. Bacteria enter a calf’s circulatory system by way of the navel into the liver, and then into the bloodstream. Navels should be dry, thin and not swollen.
The navel should be palpated every day for two weeks to check for swelling or pain, which would indicate there may be a sign of a navel infection. There should be no drainage or foul smell, nor should palpation cause a painful response from the calf.