March is the time to tend to calving cows and to tag and register calves with the Department of Agriculture.
Teagasc Adviser at the Galway/Clare Regional Unit, Anthony O’Connor, has compiled eight things farmers should be doing this March:
Move cows that are due to calve into pens close to the calving boxes a week before they are due to calve.
A chart or whiteboard can be erected in the shed giving details of each cow’s expected calving date.
This information can be got from breeding, AI records and scanning results.
Hygiene at Calving
Good hygiene reduces disease risk and calf mortality.
Clean and power wash calving boxes prior to the start of the calving season on the farm.
After each successive calving, thoroughly clean and disinfect each box. Good hygiene helps prevent the build-up of infective microorganisms such as Cryptosporidium.
Don’t skimp on straw at calving time.
Fresh, clean straw provides heat and warmth for young calves in calving boxes and creep area.
It can be used as an additional disinfectant in the creep area.
Colostrum for Calves
Cow’s colostrum is an excellent source of antibodies, protein, heat and energy. Encourage the calf to suckle as soon as possible after birth.
Calves require at least 10% of their bodyweight in colostrum in the first 12 hours of life.
A calf should get 3L within an hour of birth and a further 3L within six hours.
Calved cows and heifers calving for the first time, will need an energy boost to meet the demands of lactation.
Depending on silage quality, feed at least 2kg per head/day of a high energy, 16/18% Crude Protein ration until turnout.
Arrange with a Department of Agriculture approved laboratory to test tissue samples and return results.
Any calf testing positive for BVD should be removed from the herd immediately as they are a source of infection to other bovines on farm.
Calves should be tagged within seven days of birth, and registered within twenty days of tagging.
Make a habit of writing up the Herd Register/blue book after each registration.
Registrations can also be completed through the Department’s online facility.