Teagasc issue tips to farmers ahead of calving
With the calving season commencing on suckler farms, preparation, organisation and planning are all key management skills that will help during the busy weeks ahead. A live healthy calf from each cow is what every suckler farmer sets out to achieve, so one of the most important facilities required is a clean, dry well bedded pen for a cow showing signs of calving.
Safe and secure gates will ensure nothing collapses and a head gate and calving gate will help to restrain a cow if assistance is required. These pens should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before use. It is important to discuss vaccination options against scour with your vet.
Where calves receive adequate colostrum soon after birth, vaccinations have a proven ability to reduce scour problems and associated workload. For weaker calves or where colostrum is not plentiful, it is important to have a few litres of frozen colostrum in the freezer. Three to four litres of colostrum in the first 2-3 hours is crucial.
Try to make sure items like clean calving ropes, disposable gloves, iodine or chlorohexidine solution to treat navels, a clean calving jack, lubricant, electrolyte powders for scour treatment and a clean stomach tube are present. Now is the time to replace light bulbs, improve lighting, set up a red lamp and check drinkers.
Where broadband exists, low cost wireless cameras linked to mobile broadband routers are becoming an ever increasing must-have in calving sheds. Watching the cow through a laptop or mobile phone can help reduce visits to the shed. When organising calving, think about the location of gates to help make movement of cows between slatted pens/loose housing and calving boxes easy.
Keep an eye on cow body condition, silage quality and mineral requirements, to make sure cows are in a healthy and fit condition at calving. Adequate space in pens encourages cows to exercise and this can also help to reduce calving difficulty. Remember accidents with livestock accounts for 42% of all injuries on farms and cows can become aggressive before and after calving, so try to keep vigilant.
For more tips for the calving season there is a free Department approved KT event taking place in the Longford Arms Hotel on Thursday February 28th at 7.30pm. Speakers will include Teagasc Beef Specialist Aidan Murray, Local Vet Harry Ferguson and a Vet from Animal Health Ireland. All are welcome to attend.
Teagasc provides a Local Advisory and Education service to farmers. They have offices based in Roscommon Town (Tel: 090 6626166), Longford Town (Tel: 043 3341021) and Castlerea (Tel: 094 9620160). You can find us on Facebook @Teagascroscommonlongford.