Having all the essentials ready for the calving season

With the busy spring-calving period already started on some farms, it’s time to complete the final jobs and complete a run through of what equipment will be needed throughout the season.

Checklist

Calving pens: It is an obvious point to make, but the calving pens must be cleaned and have been disinfected as thoroughly as possible. Have lime ready to spread in the pens once they have been cleaned out and then place the bedding on top of this cover of lime.

Straw: If the farm is using straw, make sure that it is plentiful and try to keep fresh bedding provided into pens.

Frozen colostrum/biestings: Having extra colostrum stored and frozen in the freezer will provide you with a sense of security in cases where freshly calved cows or heifers are not going to have enough to feed their calf.

Depending on what is available for farmers, 1-2L containers can be used for freezing colostrum. Although, keeping in mind the thawing process, storing 1L of colostrum in zip-lock bags can lead to easier thawing out.

Calving equipment: Farmers should do a quick check that they have calving gloves, lube and calving ropes available. The calving jack should be ready for action and – it may sound odd – farmers should have a back-up calving jack on stand-by, which you can borrow from another farmer in case of an emergency.

sleepless calving season

Iodine: If the farm is using iodine, it should be ready for use once the calf has arrived and this can be applied onto the calf’s navel.

Stomach tube / feeding bottle: Make sure that if you are using a stomach tube, which has a bag attached, check that the bag is not leaking and that liquid can flow freely through the tube. Having a feeding bottle with a good teat is also a valuable tool to have during the calving season.

Infra-red lamp and warming box: Check that the infra-red lamp is working and that you have a spare bulb to use. Not too many agri-stores will be open at 3:00am in the morning when these lamps can be needed after a cow calves.

Electrolytes: It is good to have a good quantity of these available to use incase a calf becomes de-hydrated with scour.

Adequate tags: Farmers should have a quick run through of the number of new tags they have left and see if this matches the number of calves expected to arrive during this calving season.

Calving cameras and lighting: Ensure that if farmers have cameras installed that these are working and that lights are also in good working order to brighten up the shed.

Cow’s tails: Ideally trim the cow’s tails before they calve. This will keep things that bit cleaner during calving, while also keeping the cow’s udder clean and free from dirt when the calf is trying to suck.

Finally, the most essential thing to keep in mind over the next few months is always try to stay safe and never trust any cow around calving time.

Keeping track of the items on this list will hopefully guide you on your way to a successful calving season. As perfectly highlighted during a recent calving webinar, you should always expect the unexpected during the calving season this spring.