Calving season is a joyful and prosperous time of year for many operations. However, it is also the most stressful and labor-intensive. Many beef calves in the Midwest are born in the late months of winter or early spring but that can fluctuate due to your climate and area. Regardless of your situation, every rancher's main goal is to get every calf on the ground alive and safe, because, at the end of the day, every calf lost is money down the drain.
An extensive amount of planning goes into creating a successful calf crop, we have provided some helpful tips and tricks that we think may be beneficial to help make this calving season as smooth and simple as possible for yourself and your operation.
TAKE YOUR TIME
There is a lot to get done with a relatively unstructured schedule. Suitable time management allows you to feel like you have greater control of your time, while also allowing you to maintain a healthy balance of everything that may be on your plate. Create a routine ahead of time so that when difficulties arise you are prepared.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Communication is extremely important when working and conversing with your team. Be sure to actively listen to those whom you are working with to gain a solid understanding of the conversation and the task at hand. All it takes is one misunderstanding for something to go wrong, taking your time and understanding what's going on can minimize the possibility of that.
STAY ON TOP OF RECORD-KEEPING
It is critical to record information about your new calf and its mother. Birthdate, breed, color, weight, male/female, calf #, dam #, vaccinations/medications given, calving ease, and additional notes should always be recorded if applicable. Lucky for you, our cattle management software has the capability to store all those important records at the ease of your fingertips! Create detailed livestock records, track inventory, monitor animal progress, and more.
FEED LATER IN THE DAY
Gus Konefal, a Canadian rancher discovered that feeding his cows later in the day instead of in the morning will increase the number of calves born during daylight hours. A study was conducted at Oklahoma State University to understand the Konefal method better. Throughout their testing, they found that about 70% of the calves were born during daylight hours. This method could be beneficial to your team to watch your herd more closely during daylight, allowing you to reduce the number of night checks to get much-needed shut-eye.
ENSURE SUFFICIENT COLOSTRUM
Calves are born with minimal antibodies. They receive antibodies from the first milk produced by their mother which is known as colostrum. It acts as an immediate supplemental source of antibodies, energy, vitamins, and minerals to help them fight against illness and disease in the first months of their lives. According to an article from the Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, “Calves need about two quarts of colostrum (or at least five percent of the calf’s body weight within four hours of birth – ideally within 30 minutes – and one gallon within 12 hours. Time is important because a newborn calf’s digestive tract allows antibodies to pass directly into the blood," says Troy Walz, Nebraska Extension Educator.
BE PREPARED, EVEN FOR THE WORST
It may seem obvious, but things can go downhill quite quickly if you are not well-prepared. Be sure to communicate a backup plan with your team in case of an emergency. Double-check to ensure that you have all the necessary tools and supplies needed. Here’s a suggested list of a few things to have on hand:
Digital Calving book - 701x Autonomous Rancher App
xTlite™ Ear Tags
First aid kit
Clean calf puller, chains, or straps
Halter and rope
Bucket with wash water
Organization is key, especially when calving. There is nothing worse than when you are looking for something, and it not being where it is supposed to be. For example, if a heifer is experiencing dystocia (calving difficulty) and you need a calf puller to assist the cow and you cannot find it, the time that may be spent looking for it can be critical to the survival of the calf. By having your equipment and supplies organized and ready to be used your
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR CRITTERS
Every instance you are in the field or pasture you should be taking tabs on your cattle. All it takes is one missed cow or missing calf to lose money. Managing what cows are heavier bred and bagging up earlier lowers your chances of missing a birth. Likewise, by managing these cows closely you pick out complications with the birth at an earlier stage, saving you more time to intervene if necessary.
Most importantly, ensuring all of your animals are there can prove to be the difference between making money and losing money. Sorting through 1000 head is not easy, but thankfully thanks to our technology we created a much easier and exponentially faster alternative. Ranchers can now take head counts of their new calves and females in minutes. Taking the guesswork and headaches out of manually counting cattle in the field with the newest addition of the 701x Cattle Management System. xTlite™ tags are simple to use, lightweight and small enough for a calf, and cost-effective for the entire cowherd. These tags are equipped with a relative GPS system that pings a GPS coordinate directly to the 701x app on your smartphone. Eliminating the wasted time searching for a calf and matching every ear tag to the calf. Visit our website to learn more about how our smart ear tags can benefit you!
Whether you have already started calving or are still waiting, we hope that these helpful tips and tricks assist you in your success! Welcoming a new life into your herd and watching your challenging work payoff is extremely rewarding. We wish you the best of luck this year, and we hope that you enjoy watching your herd grow to be happy and healthy!
To purchase xTlite™ tags, simply create a 701x Autonomous Rancher® account and visit the our marketplace.
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