With spring calving just weeks away, following some of the outlined tips will help farmers be prepared for one of the busiest times of the year. Its a good idea to use the next couple of weeks to finalise preparations for the arrival of the 2023 calf crop.
If you have not already done so you should begin power washing and disinfecting the calf pens and calf sheds on your ranch. Make sure calving gates are working properly and make alterations as necessary. Lighting is also important, so replace bulbs and or install new lights if required. Installing a self-filling bowl is a good idea rather than offering buckets that usually end up spilled. Cattle can drink 10-15 gallons after calving so water provison should not be overlooked.
Calf rearing can be a time-consuming process, but there is a wide range of calf rearing equipment that can reduce this time, i.e. an automatic calf feeder, which will not only reduce the amount of time feeding calves but will also monitor intakes of each calf. An automatic feeder will not suit every ranch, a milk trolley may be more suitable to some ranches, particularly on farms where calves might be housed in a number of sheds. Although they will not completely reduce the time needed to rear calves, they can create more time during the busy spring-calving season to get other jobs done.
Pre-calving minerals should be offered to cows around six to eight weeks before the first calf is due to be born. Cattle feed can be relatively low in trace elements and minerals which is why it is so important to supplement diets in the run-up to calving. Minerals can reduce problems such as cows holding the placenta after calving.
- Soft nylon ropes
- Disinfectant and lubricant
- Stomach tubes (one for sick calves and one for colostrum management)
- Feeding bottle
- A thermometer and a warming box
- Calf jacket or infra-red lamp
- A box of arm length gloves and standard rubber gloves
- Access to warm water
- Ensure to order enough calf tags
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