Good facilities at calving are a must to cope with upset cows
Published 30/08/2011 | 05:00
Difficult is the best word to describe our calving season to date. Quite a few cows need some help at calving and this is unusual on this farm where the vast majority calve unassisted. The problem seems to be that a certain percentage of the cows are running up to three weeks over their time whereas the ones that are calving to their time have been relatively trouble free.
So why they are running over their time? At this stage I just don't know, but it's obviously something we will have to investigate further. Perhaps it could be linked somehow to the great thrive all year? One thing we do know is that it's not unique to a particular bull.
However, at least by feeding the cows last thing in the evening a lot of those that need assistance are calving in the middle of the day rather than in the middle of the night.
Close to 60pc of the cows will have calved this month. Losses so far are running at about 3pc, along with two prolapsed cows and three sections which all produced live calves.
Even though a lot of cows need assistance we only lost one calf as a result of a difficult delivery. In hindsight, this was because of an error of judgement on my own behalf. The calf got held at the hips and, unfortunately, died before we could free him.
On a positive note, the issue of cows going over their time seems to be abating as a lot more are starting to calve to their due date.
One thing that struck me while trying to get a particularly uncooperative cow into the calving crush is how important it is to have good facilities for calving cows.
I saw a programme on TV one night entitled "When pets go bad". Set in America, it was about family pets, including dogs, cats and alligators, who were once the perfect companion and then, for some reason, went off the rails and attacked their owner. I was just thinking how relevant this is to what I am doing at the moment, where a perfectly docile cow can turn quite nasty for a few hours around calving time.