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Are You Prepared For Calving?

28 February 2019

With calving looming or already started for some this is the time to make sure that you’re prepared for what can be the busiest and most stressful part of the year. With the first calf often arriving quicker than planned it’s a good idea to have checked that your calving equipment and essentials are ready.

Calving Aid and Ropes

Make sure that your calving jack is in working order and hasn’t suffered from any damage from the previous season. Make sure that it has been fully cleaned and is ready for use. Do you know where you calving ropes are? Again make sure that these have been cleaned and disinfected thoroughly. Worthwhile having a spare set handy. For those with a calving gate make sure that this clean and in working condition.

Colostrum Supply

We all know the importance of colostrum and how vital it is for new-born calves but how many of you have a supply at hand ready for the start of calving? Although colostrum from the cow or heifer would always be the best option this may not be possible for one reason or another so to ensure that new-borns receive colostrum promptly have some colostrum replacer/substitute in the cupboard ready. When buying colostrum look for the product with the highest content of igG. Worthwhile to have a bank of colostrum if possible stored in your freezer as nature’s colostrum is by far the best option. Also make sure that your stomach tube and calf bottle and teat are disinfected and ready for use.

Antibiotics and Drugs

Have you checked your medicine cabinet recently? Make sure you have an antibiotic (prescribed by your vet) in stock which can be used for various conditions but also have an anti-inflammatory drug in case of long or difficult calvings. Often cows are given painkillers following hard or difficult calvings but it may be worthwhile giving the new-born calf some pain relief as they have also gone through the stress and pain of the calving especially if there’s been a lot of pulling involved.

Make sure you have a good selection of sterile needles and syringes also.

Other items to have on hand are;

  • Halter/rope
  • Obstetrical lube
  • Disinfectant
  • Arm length gloves
  • Thermometer
  • Notebook/diary (handy to be able to look back on)

Lastly for those of you who are technologically advanced and using cameras in your calving shed be sure to check that the camera is working properly and make sure that the lens is clean.

Sarah Balfour,

Calf with ear tags

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