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Preparation for calving

With calving season well underway on most farms it should be remembered that the fine details can make a huge difference to having a successful calving time.
These steps should help to make for a more successful calving time.
Cows should be built up gradually onto ad lib silage pre calving as the energy requirement of the cow is increasing during this time. The ideal body condition score for cows at this time is 2.5-3. Therefore feed allowance should be tailored to meet the cow’s requirements.
In addition to this, pre calving minerals should be offered to cows for around six weeks before calving as silage is usually low in minerals such as iodine and selenium which may result in weak calves at birth.
Cows should be vaccinated before calving to ensure that there are high levels of immunoglobulin’s in the colostrums to help protect the calf against scour. Calves should receive 10% of its bodyweight in colostrums within the first six hours and 5% within the first two hours.
Calving pens should always be kept clean, dry and well bedded with straw to help prevent disease build up in the calving house. These pens should not be used to house sick animals as this could result in disease being spread throughout the calves which have a low immune system just after birth.
Calving aids should be on hand at all times to ensure that if a cow must be calved that action can be taken quickly. These calving aids such as pullers and ropes should be kept clean at all times, and a supply of electrolyte powder, colostrums and stomach tubes should all be readily available. In addition all calves navels should be sprayed with iodine immediately after birth to reduce the risk of infection.