As the sun begins to peek out of the clouds a bit more each day, green grass begins to show, and the temperatures begin to rise little by little, cattle producers become optimistic that spring is finally arriving.
Many beef calves in the Midwest are born in the late months of winter or early spring, so this is a busy and exciting time of the year for most beef producers. Regardless of what season you choose to calve in, it can be a remarkably stressful time of year. There is an extensive amount of planning, long hours, and unpredictability that can bring unwanted stress to cattle producers.
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 team.
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. When everyone is on the same page, the chances of misunderstandings and conflicts arising are minimized.
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.
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 with the click of a button! 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 as opposed to in the morning will increase the number of calves born during daylight hours. A study was conducted at Oklahoma State University to gain a greater understanding of the Konefal method. 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 very 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:
Calving book...or device with 701x Software
Ear tags + tagger
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 not having it where it is supposed to be. For example, if a heifer is experiencing dystocia (calving difficultly) 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.
Whether you have already started calving or are still waiting, we hope that these helpful tips and tricks assist you in your success! Welcoming 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!