Prepare Early to Keep Your Herd Healthy
Posted: October 30, 2010
For many herds, calving season is underway or about to start. Now is the time to prepare for the calving season to make sure your herd stays healthy. Be sure to check all facilities and equipment that will be used during calving. Calving stalls should be clean and dry. A warmer environment should be prepared just in case you have chilled calves.
Managers should have a calving kit ready to assist with the birthing procedure. Calving kits should include items such as calf pullers (chains and handles), disinfectant to sanitize, gloves, lubrication, paper towels, iodine for the calf’s navel, frozen colostrum, and electrolytes. Also it is good to have phone numbers of who to call in case you need help pulling. Other items that might be helpful to have available would be oral calf feeder or drencher, calf feeder bottle, selenium and vitamin A and D injections, dehorning paste, castration tools, and ear tags.
Be prepared to check your herd frequently and keep a close watch on first time calving heifers. Pregnant heifers should be moved to a calving area two weeks before their due date to keep a closer eye on them. This is also a good time to analyze the cow’s body condition to determine if they are in good form. Body condition scores should not fall below a 5 to ensure adequate nutrients for the calf. A body condition score of a 5 will also make certain that the cow will rebreed early. If cows have scores of 4 or less, feed the best hay available. You may need to supplement your hay to give your cows enough energy.
Once cows have calved, make sure calves get colostrum and have their navel dipped in 7 percent iodine within the first two hours of birth. Ear tagging and tattooing should be completed early to identify calves easily. After two to three days, Cow-calf pairs should be moved out to pasture. Calves will stay clean, dry, and much healthier outside. Be sure to watch calves for scours and other health issues.
March is also a time to prepare your pasture. Fertilizer planning should be completed during this time of the year. Soil testing is important to determine the correct amount of fertilizer needed for each permanent pasture. Depending on the weather, seeding of pastures can begin during late March to early April.
Be sure to use these guidelines to plan ahead on your farm to keep your herd healthy this spring. The Penn State Cooperative Extension can be assistance to you if you are having calving concerns, herd health issues, or need more information in preparing your pasture.
Animal Science Educator
Penn State Cooperative Extension
Berks and Schuylkill County
1238 County Welfare Road
Leesport, PA 19533