Knowing your plan and ensuring that you have everything you need prior to calving will help to reduce stress, keep you on track from the get-go, and create better outcomes for your team and your animals.
- All team members up to date on farm policies and what to expect during calving
- Spring rotation planner completed and visible to the team
- Supplies of metabolics, electrolytes, navel spray etc. on hand or ordered
- Calf trailer and feeding equipment clean and disinfected
- Calf shed clean and disinfected and all repairs and maintenance done
- Designated sick pen set-up
- Fresh bedding laid in calf shed
- Calving kit prepared
Well-stocked calving kits will save you making trips between the paddock and the shed.Keep your calving kit at the gate of the springer paddock or in your farm vehicle. Make sure that everyone knows where they are and can access one easily.
Tape a checklist of contents inside the bucket and have a team member in charge of making sure it is restocked regularly.
Calving kit contents
- ✔ Bucket with a lid to contain kit
- ✔ Metabolics (Clearly labelled milk fever treatments and starter drench).
- ✔ 3 calving ropes or chains (Remember to clean after each use).
- ✔ 2 litre container of lube (A plunger pump is an easy way to dispense lube).
- ✔ Towel and soap for cleaning hands
- ✔ Notebook and pencil (A pencil will still work in wet conditions, unlike a pen).
- ✔ Ear tags or other calf identification system (Pre numbered tags save time and reduce recording mistakes).
- ✔ Spray paint - red plus another colour (Red can indicate a warning. E.g. withhold milk. Communicate this with staff).
- ✔ Gloves
- ✔ Head torch and spare batteries
- ✔ Iodine spray for navels - pre-mixed with water (Do not use teat dip as an alternative).
- ✔ Key contact numbers (Vet, manager on laminated sheet).
- ✔ Calving intervention guide
- ✔ Food/energy bars
The transition period is a significant time for the cow, and how you manage your cows as they prepare to calve can impact on how quickly they recover post-calving. Here’s a few tips to help you set your plan for calving:
- Draft dry cows into springer mob regularly
- Check springers often to help identify cows having trouble
- For cows at or above body condition score (BCS) targets, restrict feeding to 90% maintenance. For cows below BCS targets, continue to feed at 100% maintenance. See feedright for more info on nutrition
- Avoid high potassium (K) feeds to help minimise down cows – test your springer paddocks over winter to identify suitable paddocks
- Supplement with magnesium 2-3 weeks prior to calving
- Ensure appropriate minerals are being provided – develop a plan with your nutritionist or vet according to your farm needs.