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HomeFarming NewsPrepare for spring-calving
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Prepare for spring-calving

Prepare well in advance of the main spring-calving period, writes CAFRE’s Nigel Gould.

Assess facilities and calving supplies to allow enough time to replenish stocks and make any adjustments. Important items include calving aids/ropes, iodine solution for navels, arm length gloves, calving lubricant, disinfectant, artificial/frozen colostrum, stomach tubes and/or feeding bottles.

A general rule is to allow one calving pen for every ten cows, but more are required where a very compact calving is anticipated.

When entering a pen with a calving or freshly-calved cow, have your escape route planned and never turn your back on the cow.

Keep dogs out of sight, in particular, as they can trigger a protective response. A good calving gate makes handling cows easier and much safer for you, the cow and calf.

Disinfect pens thoroughly between calvings and use plenty of straw.

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Iodine solution and colostrum

After the calf is born, treat navels with a strong iodine solution. Ensure the calf gets adequate colostrum as soon as possible after birth (10% of calf body weight within six hours). The ability of a newborn calf to absorb antibodies from colostrum deteriorates rapidly from birth.

If thawing frozen colostrum, do so in good time. Freezing in bags or containers with a large surface area reduces thawing time. Overheating will destroy antibodies. Never use a microwave to defrost colostrum.

Be mindful of the risk of bringing disease into your herd via colostrum from another herd.

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