How to Prepare for Calving Season

March 17, 2023
Preparing for calving season can be an exciting process. Having everything ready before the first cow goes into labor will make for a much less stressful calving season (for you and your cattle).

In this article, we’ll look at what farm owners should do to prepare for calving season. With the proper preparations, you’ll be on top of your game, and your cows will be ready to deliver healthy babies.

Know Your Cow’s Nutritional Needs

Pregnant cows have specific nutrition needs to maintain their health and support their developing calf. They require more energy and nutrients, including protein, calcium, and phosphorus.

Feeding pregnant cows a well-balanced diet helps them stay healthy and provides the nutrients their calf needs for proper development.

Additionally, cows need plenty of nutrition to continue producing milk after they calve. They need a high-quality diet of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

An excellent way to provide them with these essentials is to offer various feeds, such as grass, hay, silage, and grain. And, of course, they’ll also need access to clean water at all times.

Get Organized Ahead of Calving Season

Before your cows calve, ensuring that the calving barn and facilities are clean and in working order is crucial; this will help ensure that the calves are born healthy and disease-free. A clean and well-maintained calving barn will also help reduce the heifers’ stress during calving.

Know When and How to Help Your Cow Calve

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the calving process to know when and how to help a heifer deliver if complications arise.

The calving process usually lasts between two and four hours; during this time, the cow will experience several different stages of labor.

It’s important to be familiar with these stages so that you can identify when a heifer is in distress and needs assistance. In general, nature knows best, but there will be times when it’s imperative to step in and lend a hand to prevent losing the cow, the calf, or both.

Always Have Colostrum on Hand

Colostrum should always be on hand during calving season. It’s essential for the calf’s health and can help prevent disease.

And here’s why:

After a cow gives birth, the first creamy bit of milk produced is called colostrum. A calf must drink its share of colostrum within the first four hours after birth. And, if possible, a second feeding should be given within 6-8 hours after birth, according to Iowa State University.

If a calf is too weak to nurse or removed from the mother after birth, it’s up to us humans to provide the colostrum a calf needs to boost its immunity throughout its life.

Second, if the calf is orphaned, you can give the calf frozen, powdered, or borrowed colostrum. That said, if using colostrum from another cow, ensure it is disease-free before providing it to the newborn.

Make Sure You’re Ready for Any Weather

There are a few reasons you should be prepared to warm or cool a calf during extreme elements after birth.

First, if calves are born in cold weather, they must be kept warm to prevent hypothermia.

Second, if born in hot weather, it is vital to keep them cool to prevent heatstroke.

Third, if the calf is born during a time of extreme weather, such as a blizzard or a heatwave, it is important to be prepared to care for them accordingly.

If you’re a breeder or a rancher, it’s essential to be prepared to care for a calf in any weather, as they are often born during extreme weather conditions.

Keeping old blankets, towels, fans, and heat lamps on hand will go a long way when facing the elements.

Have Everything You’ll Need Before the First Cow Calves

Calving season is a busy and demanding time for any rancher, so it’s essential to be as prepared as possible. Here’s a checklist of items you should have on hand to make the calving season go as smoothly as possible:

  • A good stock of hay and feed to keep your cows well-nourished during this demanding time.
  • A clean, well-ventilated calving barn or pen to help reduce the risk of infection for both mother and calf.
  • A good supply of clean water for both the cows and the people working with them.
  • A well-stocked first-aid kit in case any accidents or injuries occur.
  • Clean, fresh straw to help keep the calving area clean and dry.
  • OB gloves to keep your hands clean and protected (especially if you have to assist in delivery)
  • A few extra sets of coveralls or other protective clothing to keep your clothes clean and dry.
  • Set of calf ropes or chains to help with delivery as needed or for medical procedures.
  • A set of clean buckets, pails, and towels for cleaning up after delivery.
  • Electrolytes for the cow after delivery
  • A set of scale weights to help you keep track of each calf’s birth weight.
  • A notebook and pen to keep track of important information such as dates, weights, and any medical issues that arise.
  • Your veterinarian’s phone number in case of emergency

With these items on hand, you’ll be better prepared to handle whatever the calving season throws your way.

Calving season can be a stressful time for both farmers and cattle but if you’re prepared, it will be much easier on everyone…you may even look forward to it!

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