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Southeast: 3 steps to a successful calving season

Matthew Burns for Progressive Cattle Published on 24 December 2019

Preparation is critical to having a successful calving season. Step 1 of preparation begins by establishing a controlled breeding and calving season that works best with your operation, and is vital to the profitability and sustainability of your cattle business.

Most producers in our region are part-time farmers with full-time jobs; therefore, calving seasons often vary between operations based on the producers’ schedule considerations. Even full-time cattlemen will obtain great benefit from established breeding and calving seasons, such as reduced labor, simpler management and more consistent calves to market. By defining a controlled breeding season, you will, in turn, have a controlled calving season.

Step 2 of good preparation for calving season focuses on facilities and equipment. Facility maintenance and equipment preparation will prevent frustration during inopportune times, such as midnight on a Sunday when that first heifer needs some assistance calving. Ensure facilities are ready for use and free of debris; check for loose boards or siding. Evaluate the available lighting and make sure to include flashlights or headlamps to your calving kit in situations of low light.

Consider how you will help cattle needing assistance within your facilities. (Example: It is good to avoid squeeze chutes when pulling calves; consider putting a halter on the cow in chute, then restraining her outside chute for actual delivery.) Also make preparation for possible intervention in the middle of the farm. Producers may encounter problems preventing a cow or heifer from making it to the handling facility.

Step 3 of good preparation for calving season is to make sure you have a calving kit put together. Things to consider for your kit are: obstetrical chains and straps, calf jack, head snare, colostrum, needles, syringes, long-sleeve gloves, latex gloves, lubricant, soap, metal bucket and flashlight. You might think, “I have all of that equipment,” but ask yourself: Is it in one dedicated place? Have you checked to make sure everything is functional and not expired?

The importance of this final step of preparation is sometimes overlooked. It may only take you a few minutes to double check all of your supplies and make sure you are truly prepared for the calving season. A little time spent in preparation can save you time, money and sometimes save a cow or calf, which is what this is all about at the end of the day: a healthy calf, cow and producer.  end mark

Matthew Burns
  • Matthew Burns

  • Extension Beef Specialist
  • Clemson University
  • Email Matthew Burns

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