Suckler farmer on how he's managing the 2017 calving season
Calving is now in full swing and going very well. The calves that are born so far are of a medium build and are not over fleshed, so the calving jack has not been used so for this year. All have been hardy and vigorous, so the minerals and feeding plan seem to have worked well.
The Limousins are great to get up and get their own first drink and it takes a huge lift off the workload when they do so.
Some of the heifers have calved, half of them are home bred Limousin crosses and the others are bucket-reared Simmental crosses from a dairy herd. The bucket-reared ones have a great supply of milk and could possibly rear two calves, so they should do a great job of the calves once they can fully drink them. Their temperament is also fantastic which as suckler farmers we should be looking more into.
In preparation for the calving we have more in the calving shed due to straw being stored elsewhere. This only sounds like a small thing, but has made a big difference when a few cows calve together.
We also have frozen colostrum in the freezer, thanks to a neighbouring dairy farm, if we get stuck with a cow that may be a little contrary to milk and feed her calf.
Another small investment was an extra set of ropes for the calving jack. These might come in handy some night if one gets lost in the straw.
The plan is to keep the cows and calves inside on straw till the calf is about two weeks of age. Then the pair will be turned out to a sheltered three-acre field with a little wood in the corner of the field. The cows with have access to round bale silage and a hi-mag mineral bucket.
The idea is to get both used to the outdoors and have the calf strong enough to drink the extra milk before the cow goes to grass.