Prepare Early for Easy Calving

The spring season on beef cattle operations, usually means heavy calving as well as preparing the pastures. Here are a few tips that will help to keep you prepared and make calving season easy!
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Be sure to check all facilities and equipment that will be used during calving. Calving stalls should be clean and dry. Bedding should be changed after every calving to prevent the spread of diseases. A warmer environment should also be prepared just in case you have chilled calves.

Managers should have a calving kit ready to assist with the birthing procedure. The calving kit is effective for making sure you are prepared, without the stress of looking for all of your tools. Calving kits should include items such as calf pullers (chains and handles), disinfectant to sanitize, gloves, lubrication, paper towels, frozen colostrum, electrolytes, and iodine for the calf's navel. Also, it is good to have phone numbers of people to call in case you need help pulling larger calves. Other items that might be helpful would be an oral calf feeder, calf feeder bottle, selenium and vitamin A and D injections, dehorning paste, castration tools, and an ear tagging kit. Calving kit tools can be placed in a bucket or some producers put their equipment in a backpack so they are able to arrive at the birthing scene faster.

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 receive colostrum and 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.

Prepared by Morgan Firestine