Cow Herd Preparation for Calving Season
Calving season in a beef operation often involves late, cold nights and tracking down pregnant heifers in the dark. That’s why being adequately prepared is essential to ensuring a smooth calving process that is stress-free.
There are essentially three-time frames in which cattle farmers need to keep a note of – 90 days prior, 30 days prior and two weeks prior to birth. So, get the records in order, set a reminder for the expected calving dates and get each team member familiar with their job.
Since preparation is key, this is what you need to know.
90 Days Before Calving
Three months ahead of calving season is vital to pregnant cattle. During this time, farmers must analyse the health of the heifer to warrant that they are prepared for the challenges to come.
Take this time to make sure everything on the property is in order. Reducing stress during calving will help you focus on the birth and aftercare with some peace of mind.
A property that is full of issues and lacks order can impede your focus. Ensuring cattle handling is taken care of will help you supervise heifers, inspect livestock when needed and have calving ropes, chains, jacks and pulleys readily available.
This is also the time to assess the health of your cows. Providing the necessary nutrients for the cow will determine if it has a healthy amount of body weight that is necessary for calving. The Body Condition Score (BCS) is a nine-point scale tool describing the relative fatness of the beef cattle which is used to manage the cow herd.
90 days prior to calving is the last chance to get your herd into the desired nutritional condition. During this period, the herd should be divided between thin cows and good-condition cows and fed accordingly. Getting cows back into a healthy condition is considerably easier before calving as their nutrient requirements are much lower in comparison to during the lactation period. Ideally, cows at this stage should score between 5 to 6.
30 Days Before Calving
Before you know it, the calving season will be over. Setting yourself up for a smooth calving season means checking your supply stock about 30 days before the expected season starts. Eliminate the last-minute scramble, ensure everything is accounted for ahead of time and tick off items on the checklist.
Some essentials to have on-hand include:
- Veterinarian contact information
- Iodine spray
- Ear tags
- Postnatal treatments
- Calf milk bottle
- Lubricant in case any palpation is required
- Latex gloves
- OB chains and calf jack
Two Weeks Prior to Calving Season
Now that your cows are in ideal condition and the right nutrients and supplies have been stocked, the final step is to prepare the maternity areas. By starting the preparation stage early, you can get ready for the influx of animals that could begin to arrive on any day.
The extra bit of preparation left is to ensure that calving pens have been constructed, cleaned up and bedded. Two weeks prior to calving season is the latest step that should be completed. No matter if the designated calving areas are in a barn, indoors or outdoors, it is a priority for them to be cleaned, dried, bedded and ready.
Steel Supplies Charters helps you at every step of the calving season, get in touch today.
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