In the run up to Christmas it can be easy to forget what’s just around the corner on many suckler and dairy farms – the calving season.

On many farms, calving gets underway in mid, to late-January, and is well wrapped up by mid-March.

This is a very busy time on farms, with the normal workload greatly increased assisting with the delivery and rearing of the progeny of 2022.

Farmers should be taking all the actions they possibly can take, now, to prevent any additional jobs or tasks having to be completed when this busy season gets fully underway.

Calving checklist

One of the more practical tasks that can be completed now is to ensure that all the equipment needed is available on-hand for when calving begins.

In light of this, Animal Health Ireland (AHI) has made an equipment checklist available for all suckler and dairy farmers to ensure that they have the basic equipment in their inventories before calving (or lambing, albeit) gets underway.

The following materials should be in stock and ready to go before calving gets underway next month:

  • Disposable plastic gloves (long and short);
  • Gel and paper towels;
  • Calving ropes (minimum of two pairs);
  • Calving jack;
  • Oxytocin, calcium bottles or boluses and magnesium;
  • Disinfectant for navel;
  • Easily accessible clean water;
  • Colostrum (fresh or frozen supply from a reliable source);
  • Brix refractometer to test colostrum;
  • 3L bottle with a teat (have a minimum of two. A separate one for electrolytes or feeding sick calves);
  • Stomach tube (without cracks);
  • Calf tags, notebook or phone-app setup to record the calving information;
  • Infrared lamp for sick calves;
  • Footbaths with disinfectant (do not forget to change regularly);

The above is just a sample checklist containing some of the materials that will be needed in the run up to calving. A range of other products will also be needed for both cows and calves.

Calving season is a stressful time on farms and farmers should take all the actions they can now, in order to avoid any additional or unnecessary stress on their farms when it gets underway.

It is also worth noting that it’s not too late to make changes or improvements to facilities on the farm to improve farmer safety when working with livestock in the calving area.