Start planning early for a seamless calving season.... and just like regular moms to be - we start preparing for calving about 3 weeks out from our suggested ”Due Date” aka when we put the Big Guys (Bulls) In - we can have babies start coming the week fo February 20, 2021 — it will be here before we know it!!!
Now’s the time to plan for spring calving and fall calving. Make sure you have a reliable team, including a trusted veterinarian on speed-dial for any complications that you aren’t sure about. Prepare a dedicated calving area with ample space that’s clean, dry and protected from the elements. And, stock up on these spring calving and fall calving season essentials.
1. Non-irritant antiseptic and extra bedding Protect newborn calves during calving season from disease-causing pathogens with a clean, dry environment. We use Big Straw Bales to help keep babies dry out in the pasture.
2. Clean towels - Calving season can be a messy business, be ready to clean it up.
3. Iodine, vaccinations and antibiotics Make sure to Work with your vet to create or refine a spring calving or fall calving protocol for your operation.
4. Obstetrical chains, two handles and mechanical calf pullers - Keep these supplies on hand in case you need to pull a calf. Jason perfers to use our Dr. Franks Calf Puller by Neogen.
5. A clean surface for used equipment Avoid having to pick up tools or equipment from soiled bedding.
6. Disposable obstetrical sleeves Use a new pair every time.
7. Lubricant Nothing fancy required. Get the job done with non-detergent soap and warm water.
8. A calving book for record-keeping There’s no such thing as too many records, be ready on day one. I then transfer my paper records to our Online Records, using CattleMax
9. Ear tags and a tagger Add a spare tagger for good measure. We order from Ritchey Livestock Tags - each calf gets a tag in their right ear. The 2021 Calf Crop tags will be marked out 101-102-103 in the order they are birthed. They will then have our brand on the backs of the tags to help ensure they’re ours should they get out. I keep records using a notebook in the truck to match to Momma Cow Number as well as approx weight - date of birth and their sex.
10. A sled with ropes and a heater - Protect calves from the elements during extra cold winter weather.
11. Colostrum and Milk replacer, electrolytes and an esophageal feeder. We prefer to use Land O Lakes Colostrum & Milk - - LOL (Land O Lakes) is the best out there right now. Land O Lakes uses real Bovine Colostrum and has over 100 IgG whereas generic like Colostrx has only 50 IgG and is made from a concentration. (any is better than none at all but for a calf that really needs it LOL is the way to go). Ensure calves get the nutrition they need if the weather’s especially harsh, or if they can’t nurse their dam.
12. Extra coveralls and boots Keep extra hats and gloves handy in case there’s unexpected cold weather. 13. Thermometer - if you find a down calf, temp is at most crucial !! Getting that calf's internal temperature to 100 degrees is important. - internal temperatures will usually fall below normal due to slow birthing process - which is why we do routine Checks every few hours during calving. First Time Heifers especially need to be watched closely for laboring issues to learning how to “mom”.
14. A Calving Warmer - there are many different types of warmers on the market. We opted to save the $500+ and I made our own out of an old tote. You can read that blog - or watch the video to see how that process was created.
Just like a well-planned calving season can support calf performance down the road, a balanced cow nutrition program can support breeding performance for years to come. Don’t put cow nutrition on the back burner during calving season. Providing cows with the proper mineral now can pay dividends next year. Feed a high-quality mineral year-round to build up mineral stores and prepare cows to breed back quickly. Consider a source with Availa 4® organic trace minerals, like Purina® Wind and Rain® Mineral to support cow nutrition. Does your calf and cow nutrition program stack up? Find out with a Proof Pays trial.