It can be challenging to have a problem-free season when the never-ending list of jobs seems to keep growing and overall fatigue levels are at an all-time high.
By now, the spring calving season is well under way and while getting back into the swing of things can be like muscle memory, there are many common mistakes still to watch out for.
1. Assisting a cow too early, when her cervix hasn’t fully dilated
Give the cow time to dilate fully before going in and assisting her to calf.
More often than not, when given time, cows will be able to calve by themselves. The less you have to intervene the better.
Pulling a calf before the cow is dilated can lead to both injury and bruising.
From here, the cow will be much more likely to suffer from a retained placenta and struggle to go back in-calf.
2. Having an incorrect body condition score (BCS) at calving
If the BCS is too high, the cow's birth canal can be laden with fat, making it difficult for her to calve.
Too low and the cow may be weak, fairly thin and lack the energy required to give birth.
You should always aim to calve cows down with a BCS target of 2.5 in spring. This way you’ll have much less complications during labour.
3. First-calving heifers that are too small and have not reached sufficient liveweight
Heifers should be 85% of their mature liveweight by the time of calving.
Heifers that do not reach their target liveweight are more likely to experience difficulty when calving.
Calving heifers at 24 months can be seen as a challenge by many, but there are many advantages of calving them down at two years old, including higher lifetime output per cow and reduced number of stock groups.
4. Using the calving jack incorrectly
The calving jack should really only be used if necessary.
As mentioned above, try not to intervene if you can while the cow is calving.
Remember that the jack can exert the same pulling force as six people, so it needs to be used with caution to avoid injury to the cow or calf.
And, most importantly, only apply force while the cow is pushing.
This is truly a common mistake drawn from inexperience or not being patient enough.
5. Inadequate hygiene around your calving facilities
It can’t be stressed enough how important good hygiene is around calving.
Regularly clean out and disinfect calving pens to help avoid calves picking up scours or any other infections.
Also, keep your calving equipment, such as ropes and your calving jack, washed down after each use.
A lack of hygiene around calving can increase the likelihood of cows picking up uterine infections, which in turn can have impacts on fertility further down the line.
This non-invasive, tail-mounted device is absolutely invaluable when it comes to being super efficient at calving time.
It measures the cow’s spinal contractions and tail movements to accurately predict the onset of calving to the nearest hour.
As a farmer, all you need to do is turn the device on and place it opposite the vulva on the cow’s tail.
Moocall will then notify you by text message, app alert and/or email notification once calving activity is taking place.
With over seven years on the market and over 16,000 customers worldwide, the company has proven what a valuable piece of technology its calving sensor is and all the great benefits it can bring to farmers.
Visit www.moocall.com or call 01-969 6038 for more information.
Why you should have a Moocall Calving Sensor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiQIt51bEcM