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January Feed Tip

Jan 05, 2021

Calving Season Prep
When it comes to calving season, having a plan and preparing ahead of time can help to minimize calf loss. A fresh calf crop is something a cow/calf producer looks forward to each year. Here are a few tips on prepping to have a successful calving season.
  1. Paying attention to the nutritional needs of bred heifers and cows
Following up from November’s tip of the month, adequate body condition scores on young heifers and mature cows can help improve stamina during delivery, calf vigor, colostrum quality, and it can subsequently impact rebreeding. A few things that can negatively impact body condition are available forage that is low in protein and energy and cold weather.
  1. Go over your heard health plan with your veterinarian
Utilizing treatment records from the previous year can help you identify areas were problems had occurred. Your veterinarian will be able to help you put together a management plan to help mitigate health problems that may have been an issue in the past.
  1. Thoroughly examine your calving facilities
Generally, it has been 9-10 months since you have used your calving facilities. Here is an inspection list you can follow: gates, pens, alleys, head gates, and fixing or replacing broken items. Good lighting is important as well to make sure your calving facility is ready for the new calf crop.
  1. On hand calving supplies
Here is a supplies list to follow. Plastic sleeves, obstetrical lube, chains, straps, feeding tube, and feeding bottles. Make sure your calf puller is working properly and is clean. Test spotlights and flashlights to make sure they are working and have halters and ropes on hand if needed.
  1. Have colostrum or colostrum replacement products on hand
Did you know that within 6-12 hours after a calf is born, its ability to efficiently absorb immunoglobulin across the intestine decreases rapidly? Even though colostrum from mom or even within your herd is preferred, the quality and/or quantity sometimes can be a concern. Colostrum replacement products can be a good option after a prolonged calving event, when the calf is not vigorous at birth, maternal bonding is lacking, or during cold stress. Richard Randle, DVM from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln reports that 85% of calf loss from infectious disease have received inadequate passive transfer of colostrum.
  1. If calving during cold weather- a plan and equipment for warming calves
During cold and wet conditions, calves can quickly succumb to hypothermia. Having proper facilities and tools on hand such as warm colostrum, towels, warm air, or a warm bath, can help prevent a calf’s body temperature from dropping. Calves should be dry, alert, and have a normal body temperature before being returned to their mother.
  1. Wind protection and a clean, dry environment
Disease proliferation is more easily to occur in wet, muddy conditions. These types of conditions are also stressful to the calves and the cows.
Mid-Iowa Coop Feed Department would be happy to help you with your preparation and during your calving season. For a list of colostrum replacement products as well as stress tub options, give one of our feed representatives a call!

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