Reducing night-time calvings this spring

As the spring-calving season falls upon us, it is important to always be vigilant of pregnant cows and heifers that are soon due in the coming weeks.

Sometimes, it can be a case where a cow can calve quicker than a farmer might expect. Keeping this in mind, it is important to be prepared to isolate cows and heifers that are beginning to get loose around the vulva and showing signs of coming on to calve.

Depending on your system, it may suit some suckler farmers a lot better to have their cows calving during the day when they can be around to assist, if necessary, and ensure that the calf gets up to suck.

According to Teagasc, feeding pregnant heifers and cows the majority of their daily ration as late as possible in the evening has been shown to minimise the number of animals calving at night.

On the topic of reducing numbers of night-time calvings, Teagasc beef specialist Alan Dillion provided some simple advice for suckler farmers considering this management style this spring.

He highlighted: “The majority of farmers shut the cows off from the feed trough in mid-afternoon and then put out the feed. On their last evening check, they allow the cows access to their feed.

“This results in the majority of the cows calving at around 6:00am the following morning.”

Routine

Getting cows into a routine for feeding is important if farmers are using this style of management around calving. Fortunately, it does not take long for cows to adapt to a change in the timing of their feeding.

Alan stated:

Evening feeding only needs to start a week to 10 days before calving is due to start. Feeding times can be manipulated to coincide with cows calving at any time of the day almost.

“Part-time farmers may want cows calving later in the evening and at night time when they are at home so feeding can be arranged for early to mid morning to facilitate this if required.”