Points to remember during calving season

As calving draws closer, producers know that, as always, the season is a busy one.

As calving draws closer, producers know that, as always, the season is a busy one. A little preparation and some advance management practices can go a long way in ensuring a successful calving season in 2014.

Feeding and nutrition management:

  • Successful nutrition management requires the analysis of the feed resources.
  • The best feeding management is attained by separating cows that have calved from those that have not.
  • Ration balancing using the animal’s nutrient requirements and the nutrient composition of the feeds helps to determine the appropriate mix of feeds.
  • Moisture content of silages must be known to assure accurate ration formulation.
  • The mineral needs of a cow increase after she calves.
  • Extra nutrients are required 90 days post-calving for a cow to produce enough milk and rebreed efficiently.

Health care and calving difficulties:

  • Injuries and diseases at calving generally respond to treatment with little effect on the subsequent breeding period.
  • Some diseases may occur during or after calving that will have an effect on rebreeding.
  • Calving losses in heifers can be high because of calving difficulties.
  • Use good judgment as to which calving problems require professional help.
  • Traction on the calf in the early stages should be exerted upward in the direction of the tail head and not downward. Once the calf is in the pelvic cavity, traction should be straight backward and then downward allowing the calf to pass through the birth canal in the form of an arch.
  • Many calving difficulties could be eliminated by proper development of replacement heifers and breeding first-calf heifers to bulls that will sire calves with light birth weights.
  • Even though calf weight is the most important single cause of calving difficulty, size of the pelvic opening is also related to calving difficulty.

Good Management Practices:

  • As cows calve they should be separated from cows that have not calved so both can be fed to their requirements and scours may be prevented.
  • Heifers calving for the first time should be separated from older cows so they can be watched more closely for calving problems.
  • The chances of calving problems with heifers are five times greater than with mature cows.
  • Provide cows a trace mineralized salt-phosphorus mixture.
  • The hospital pen should be dry, sheltered and convenient to work in.
  • Be sure the cow is allowing the calf to nurse. Calves should receive five per cent of their birth weight in colostrum before they are 12 hours old.

Preparations to consider before the next breeding season:

  • Review the vaccination program for cows and calves and vaccinate them prior to the breeding season.
  • Examine and treat eye problems that might become worse on the range.
  • Be sure cows, and especially first-calf heifers are receiving enough feed for milk production and preparation for the breeding season.

From Agriculture Alberta