Get de-budding of newborn calves going immediately
The beef calves are hitting the ground thick and fast at present. Weather has been generally kind this spring and some calves are bigger than expected at birth.
Beef cows have fared well over the winter and some may have tended to be slightly fat. This brings its own difficulties with the calving process, given the knock-on effect in getting those cows back in calf in early summer.
With the calves on the ground now you must quickly get going with the de-budding and also the blackleg vaccine if appropriate. On the de-budding scene, it's often difficult to organise a beef suckler herd to get all de-budding done at the appropriate time. For some, the buds don't emerge until a few weeks of age, while in others they are discernable almost from birth.
With a scattered birth pattern on a busy suckler farm it can be nigh on impossible to get to do each calf at the optimum time. It then becomes necessary to fix a de-budding day on any particular week. For example, say on a Friday morning you could round up the previous week's calves and de-bud them. Once done, that batch can move one more step away from the busy peri-parturient sheds where the springers and newly calved are kept close to the busy hub of the farm.
At the same time you can also be dealing with the mothers who may have had difficulties during calving. Some older cows with poor feet can now have the legs lifted and the hooves pared. You could not do this during late pregnancy for fear of losing the calf.
Some of these older and lamer cows may go onto the culling list as young replacement heifers are being geared up to start heading for the bull. A fluke dose may be useful at this point to eliminate any remnants of adult fluke that may still be in the livers of the over-wintered adult animals.
Your farm vet can analyse some dung samples for fluke eggs if in any doubt. Such samples are useful to determine how effective last year's fluke programme was. It will also inform if over-wintering fluke has been a factor in maintaining high levels of fluke on the farm over the past few years. Dosing without checking may mean we are over-using our flukecides. That wastes money and adds to the resistance pressure on all of these medicines. So best advice is to check a few dung samples now.
The newly calved herd is now ready for booster vaccines against leptospirosis, BVD and IBR. These are diseases that may cause abortion or early embryonic loss of next year's pregnancies. Vaccinate before you send the now empty cows back to the bull. I say bull, by the way, but in fact we should encourage more and more use of high genetic beef semen to improve the genetics of the national beef herd.