Beef: Calving season has gone without any hitches - so far
Published 09/03/2016 | 02:30
Calving is now in its third week with everything going to plan. Calves are healthy and lively and the cows have a adequate milk supply.
No cow needed assistance up until last week when we had a big bull calf coming backwards - the calving gate and jack were called into action. These two pieces of equipment have been worth their weight in gold for me over the years. All ended on a positive note, even though it took him a while to stand and get a drink.
All the calves are observed after calving to see if they can get their own drink. If they don't, I feed some defrosted colostrum that I have in reserve. This milk is supplied to me by a neighbouring dairy farmer.
The one luxury I don't have is a calving camera. The farm house is within walking distance of the sheds, so it is easy to have a look now and again.
Another aspect I also observe at calving is the temperament of the cows and the new heifers at calving. I have zero tolerance for mad cows or wild cattle on the farm.
The cows at the moment are on ad lib silage and dry cow minerals and will remain on this diet unless calves get very big or soft. If this happens I might restrict the silage.
Cows will remain in the shed on straw until the calf is about two weeks of age, or the weather is suitable for turnout.
Before turnout the calves will be tagged and debudded. They are then let loose on a bare 4ac field beside the sheds with a wooded area in the corner. If there is a problem with a cow or calf they can be easily returned to the shed from this field.