Management hint: Your pre-calving checklist

With the calving season to due to start on many farms in just a number of weeks, the downtime between now and calving is a good opportunity to begin preparations for the busy season ahead.

To allow for a more successful calving season and so that nothing is forgotten, here are a number of things which can be done and ticked off the to-do list.

Housing facilities

The calf-rearing and calving areas should be cleaned out and disinfected well in advance of calving. This allows cleaning products to dry out and break down any carry over of infection from one year to the next.

If there was a disease issue on the farm in previous years, steam cleaning along with using disinfectants such as Cyclex or Kenocox, should help to prevent the issue this coming year.

Also ensure that all the gates; drinkers; troughs; and calf rearing equipment are in working order and disinfected ready for the season ahead.

An isolated area should also be made available in case a calf gets sick. This will help prevent spreading the infection to other calves. A red light or calf jacket should also be available for any sick or weak calves.

Shopping list

Have the following materials/products in the farmyard before calving begins:

  • Iodine – Teagasc recommends approximately 10-15ml per naval;
  • Calving jack ropes;
  • Calf tags;
  • Calf feeder teats;
  • Nitrile gloves;
  • Lubrication;
  • Calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) – for any milk fever or grass tetany cases;
  • Mastitis tubes;
  • Tape, leg bands or spray paint – or whatever is your preferred method of marking cows;
  • Stomach tube and/or bottle – Teagasc recommends checking that the bag is not leaking and the tube itself isn’t chewed, as this can cause oesophageal damage;
  • Electrolytes;
  • Disinfectant for housing facilities;
  • Bags or containers for storing colostrum;
  • Nitrogen (N) fertiliser.

Milking parlour

Once the cows are dried off, it’s a good opportunity to get the parlour serviced.

Also Read: Now’s the time to get the milking machine ready for the 2021 season

Other

The calving jack; calf taggers; along with any other calving equipment should be checked to ensure it’s in good working order.

Gather up all reels and fence posts; make any roadway or fence repairs that may be needed and create a grass budget and a spring rotation planner (SRP).

Farmer health

Finally, if 2020 has highlighted anything it is that your health is your wealth. With farming being such a physically demanding job, now may be a good time to pay your GP a visit for a full check up.