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Advice: 1 calving box per 10 cows

It is recommended that there be one calving box per 10 cows, writes Alan Dillon, beef specialist, Teagasc in state agency’s January 2020 advisory newsletter.

This is, he explained, where cow and calf only remain in the box for one to two days. If there is a tight calving spread, you will need more boxes.

The boxes, he explained, should be at least 3.6m x 4.0m in area. However, temporary pens can be erected at 3.6m x 3.6m where a cow and calf have to be kept on their own for a few days.

“Make sure that separating bars and gates of pens are safely secured and of adequate strength to hold heavy suckler cows.”

“Boxes should be thoroughly cleaned, power-washed and disinfected with a strong disinfectant before use.”

Basic calving equipment

Farmers are advised to check the availability of basic calving equipment such as disposable gloves for handling cows, clean soft calving ropes, iodine or chlorohexidine solution to treat navels, a functioning calving jack that is not worn or liable to slip, lubricant, electrolyte powders for scour treatment and a clean stomach tube.

You are advised to have adequate straw supplies in-store before calving starts.

“Having a few litres of frozen colostrum in the freezer is a good insurance policy for that weak calf or one that is slow to get to its feet.”

He explained that three to four-litres of colostrum in the first hour of life is crucial for any calf.

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