Building a clean calving environment is important as it protects the investment of a farm that has a herd of cows and is looking to maximise their profits during calving season. Losing a calf is undesirable at all times, but with margins tight within the industry it is important to put in place strong foundations that limit the chances of poor health and the loss of calves during calving season on your farm.
There are a number of processes and practices that you can put in place to help protect as many calves as possible on your farm.
Look After Nutrition for Your Herd – Prior to calving season it is important to prepare your bred heifers or cows for calving season. The condition of female cows is vital at the time of calving. Poor nutrition can have a negative impact on the stamina of the cow during calving, colostrum quality, calf vigour and rebreeding potential. During the last 50-60 days prior to calving is a critical time for nutrition, with young female cows at their most vulnerable during the last trimester of pregnancy. Without the correct nutrition, energy and protein levels the body condition can rapidly deteriorate and put the calf at risk.
A Trustworthy Veterinary Service – Having a skilled veterinarian at hand will help you to discuss your specific herd health plan, identifying critical management control points in order to reduce the health risks and to improve the collective herd health without increasing your costs. Prevention is always better than cure and a highly skilled veterinary professional on site will help to produce a safe and clean calving environment.
Maintain Good Levels of Calving Facilities – As there will always have been some time since the calving facilities have last been used it is important to take a look well in advance of calving season. Conduct a thorough inspection of the site and make sure that any required repairs are completed in time, replacing important items and ensuring that all lighting is up to scratch.
Have Supplies in Place – During calving season there is no time to waste sourcing supplies that should already be readily available. Have at hand all detergents and disinfectants to keep the facilities sterile, have in place plastic sleeves, chains and straps, calf feeding bottles, flashlights, ropes and other tools. Calving is time critical, so be fully prepared.
Colostrum Quality – Having colostrum or colostrum replacement products ready to use during calving season will help you to reduce death from infectious disease. There is a critical time period immediately after birth where the calf requires colostrum. Replacement products should be used where a calf isn’t vigorous.
Weather Protection – Newly born calves and cows find wet, windy and muddy conditions stressful. It is vital for you to put together a plan of protection from intense weather and windy conditions.
Put together a thorough plan to protect newly born calves from the cold weather and windy conditions. In cold conditions you should use towels and warm air to bring the calf’s temperature back to normal, as quickly as possible.
With a few sensible steps you can ensure that your farm is fully equipped for calving season, creating a safe and clean environment.