With fall calving season nearing completion and spring calving season just around the corner, now is the time to evaluate your cow herd to help make the calving season go smoother and set your cow herd up for success in the next breeding season.
Dr. Jody Wade, Professional Services Veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., shares these management tips to help cow-calf producers have a more productive calving season.
- Body condition: It is important for cows to maintain a body condition score (BCS) between 4.5 and 5.5 during the final trimester. A higher body condition score allows for improved calving ease, along with higher quality colostrum. First-calf heifers should have a BCS of 5.5 to 6 before calving. “Heifers are still trying to grow, while also providing milk and preparing to rebreed. After calving, they won’t add body condition so it is key that they are in really good condition before calving,” says Dr. Wade.
- Vaccinations: Entering the third trimester, producers should consider vaccinating with a killed-virus vaccine to boost immunity. Dr. Wade explains that the immune response developed from the vaccination forms antibodies that pass from cow to calf through the colostrum.
- First aid kit: Don’t wait until you have problems to develop a plan. Before calving season make sure you have: clean calving area, calf jack, obstetric chains, latex gloves and good functioning lights for nighttime calving problems.
After the calf arrives safely, make sure the calf consumes at least one quart of colostrum within six hours of birth. This is also a good time to make sure the calf is getting up and around without any motor function problems. To get off to a really good start health-wise the calf should consume three quarts of colostrum within the first 24 hours of life.
“A little planning now goes a long ways toward a trouble-free calving season and prevents problems before they start,” concludes Dr. Wade.