Dakota State University -- NDSU Agriculture
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo ND, 58105-5655, Tel: 701-231-7881, Fax: 701-231-7044
Prepare Now For a Successful Calving Season, Beef Specialist Says
In terms of beef cow profitability, a dead calf is worse than no calf at all, so now is the time to pay attention to calving preparation and management, says a North Dakota State University beef specialist.
"Getting a live, healthy calf off to a good start and making sure the cow is in good condition to care for that calf and to carry another calf in the coming year should be top priorities for beef producers," says Greg Lardy of the NDSU Extension Service. "You can cull an open cow, but losing a calf at calving represents a full season of lost effort and investment."
Good cow nutrition is essential. The final weeks of pregnancy and the early weeks of lactation require more nutrition than any other time in a cowís life cycle. "If those nutritional needs arenít met, cow and calf performance will suffer," Lardy says. Health problems for both the cow and calf could result. In the longer term, calves could have lower weaning weights and breeding difficulties could occur in undernourished cows.
"Cows need to be in good body condition going into calving and good quality feeds will help them maintain that body condition and performance," he says.
To make sure nutritional needs are being met, producers may need to separate heifers and thin cows from mature cows. "Heifers and thin cows need more management and a more nutrient-dense diet; you canít accomplish that when theyíre mixed in with mature cows," Lardy says. "Itís going to be more economical and effective to get them in separate pens and manage them according to their needs."
In addition to assessing cow condition, producers need to look at calving facilities to make certain theyíre in good repair. "Correct any obvious problems with pens and structures. Then take a second look to correct any problems that might pose problems or risks for cows, calves and handlers. Facilities that are in good repair and convenient will make calving easier for both livestock and producers," he says.
Similarly, take an inventory and inspect calving equipment such as calf pullers and OB chains. Purchase replacements or make any necessary repairs before calving season. "If a problem is going to occur, itís likely to be at the most inopportune moment," Lardy says. "Preventive maintenance helps avoid those moments.".
Also, check the supply cabinet to make sure you have necessary animal health related supplies needed for calving. You should be well stocked with disinfectants, OB gloves, colostrum and scours treatments. Discard and replace any products that are damaged, contaminated or past their expiration dates.
"Finally, make sure you and your calving crew understand when veterinary assistance is needed to deliver the calf," Lardy says. "Knowing when to ask for help is essential to keeping both the calf and the cow healthy."
Source: Greg Lardy, (701) 231-7660, firstname.lastname@example.org Click here to download an Audio clip to accompany this
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