Calving Preparation13 Jul 2018

Michelle Stodart BVSc

Calving is not far away for most and some have already started. Now is the time to ensure you have everything organised and on hand for a successful calving and calf rearing season.

Calf sheds should ideally have been cleaned out and spelled for a few months prior to being replaced with new bedding. All calf feeding and rearing equipment needs a thorough clean with hot water and detergent before the new season to remove any bird faeces and dirt that has accumulated since it was last used. Equipment can also be checked at this time and any breakages can be repaired and teats etc. can be replaced as needed. Another item to check over and clean is the calf pick up trailer. Also ensure there is sufficient padding on the floor – rubber matting is ideal for this as it is insulating and is easily cleaned.

It’s also a good time to check out your calf rearing supplies and ensure all items are clean and you have enough of everything on hand. Please also check that any drugs are still in date and if not replace with new. Items found in a typical calf rearing kit are listed below.

Calf Rearing Kit

  • Thermometer – a must have!
  • Calf Drencher (Antahi recommended)
  • Electrolytes and Optiguard
  • Colostrum Keeper (Potassium Sorbate)
  • Iodine Tincture and Spray Bottle
  • Antiseptic Cleaner (i.e. Vetsan) and Gloves
  • Faecal Sample Pottles
  • Injectable Antibiotic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Syringes and Needles
  • Marker Paint (to identify treated calves)
  • Footbath
  • System of recording calf treatments etc.

A portable calving kit is a great option to ensure you have all the equipment you need to calve cows and also have some basic drugs on hand. Calving is a busy and stressful time for all so being organised and prepared early can help you to better manage any problems when they occur. A typical calving kit will contain the following items.

Calving Kit

  • Lube
  • Gloves
  • Calving ropes/chains and handles
  • Antiseptic (e.g. Vetsan)
  • Dedicated clean calving bucket
  • Calcium injectable and oral (Calol/Calpromag)
  • Starter Drench (i.e. Starter Plus)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Syringes and Needles

Please also remember the golden rule that if you are not making any progress with a calving after 10 minutes then it’s time to give us a call. Calling us earlier almost always gives us a better chance at performing the calving and often reduces the damage to the cow resulting in improved outcomes. As vets we also have the added benefit of being able to give certain drugs which can help reduce straining and make it easier on the cow and calf.