A proportion of beef and dairy farmers north and south of the border calve cows in the winter months for various reasons.
In Northern Ireland, there is a lot more milk produced indoors in the winter months. Dairy farmers get compensated for the higher costs of production. Some suckler farmers calve in the autumn for a variety of reasons, but there is little in the way of premium for higher costs.
Calving on many of these farms often happens outdoors on paddocks close to the farmyard which is often much cleaner and has less disease pressure than indoor calving.
However, once stock come indoors disease pressure can build up so proper facilities are required to manage young calves and cows indoors.
Unless you are properly set up with facilities it can become laboursome and often dangerous.
All farmers need to stand back and look at why they are calving in winter and ensure that they get the return for the extra workload. Often, some justify the workload to allow them complete other tasks in the spring. Analyse the decision-making process for your farm.
Whether it’s spring or winter calving there is always a proportion of difficult calvings. Kieran Mailey discusses solutions for some calving problems.
The overriding message is to know what you can and cannot do and act early if you need help rather than leaving it to the last minute, when in fact it might be too late and difficult for the vet to intervene successfully.
At this particularly busy time for some farmers look after number one and think safety at every turn. The quietest of cows can be very protective at calving.