Watch calving season and you'll see men multi-tasking with a vengeance
They say men can't multi-task. But that theory comes seriously into question for this male-dominated industry when you consider a dairy farmer milking, and the general management of a dairy farm during the calving season.
A well-run system always impresses me, as a person milking deals with freshly calved cows, stressed first calvers attempting to constantly knock off the milking unit, identifying and treating cows with high somatic cell count (SCC) quarters or clinical mastitis, as well as trying to keep an eye out for any animal with metritis or discharge that needs treatment. I think that's multi-tasking at its best. It's especially impressive when you consider that this is often combined with a degree of tiredness and stress resulting from the increased workload of dry cows, milkers and calf rearing, alongside the assistance and monitoring of the calving cows, often at unsociable hours of the night.
The ability to think straight or managing to get all those essential jobs done can come under pressure. Consequently, having simple systems in place or a degree of extra help to reduce the workload is a wise investment at this time.
Although the pressure is on, there are a few tasks that may be forgotten by some that are well worth implementing during the calving period and up to mating.
Worthwhile investments in time and energy are:
1. Check each colostrum cow for subclinical mastitis infections. This can be done with the California milk test, and treat accordingly before entering the main herd. If left undetected, these animals may raise your bulk SCC, risk infection to other cows, and potentially cause a big problem later on in the milking season.
This is especially relevant where there is a herd history of a high average SCC of more than 250,000 cells/ml.