Spring, summer, winter, fall…. everyone has their favorite season for various reasons. Some like the heat and sun. Some like the cold snowy days by the fire. Me? Calving season is my FAVORITE season by far! For some, that time is now. For others, those momma cows are just getting ready to start dropping those babies. Why is this my favorite? The reasons are endless. Most importantly though, this is what we work all year for! We all care for the cattle all year long feeding, walking through knee deep mud, fixing fence, working tirelessly to get that stubborn cow up that simply won’t be smart enough to just go through the dang gate! Today is the day it all pays off!
Many farm wives out there might think I am crazy. You ladies are reading this saying, is this chick CRAY? Calving time is the WORST! Ladies, I know where you are going with this…. I understand the stress levels associated with the best season of the year. I know how the husband’s stress levels can get…. well can we say, a little out of whack. Lets face it, it can become an episode with an exchange of words that might resemble the infamous “cattle working saga” that we farm wives or farm girlfriends hear about. We all have seen those posts on Facebook…. they go something like “Farm Girl Tip: Don’t take anything he says personally when sorting or moving cows.” Hopefully this post will help you ladies out there that find themselves elbows deep in helping calve those momma cows! Remember ladies, Valentines day is this weekend. What better thoughtful gift to give your farmer than helping them prepare for the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!
Below are some of my tips to a successful calving season.
1. Begin with the end in mind. One of my life mantras! I simply cannot understand anyone that goes through life and has no clue to where they are going! Likewise, who begins calving season not knowing how many calves to expect and who is going to calve when? Being prepared is the most essential step to successfully calving your spring calf crop. Having your herd pregnancy check sheet organized by due date is key to knowing when each cow is EXPECTED to calve. Obviously, this is not an exact science, some cows come early, some bulls have shorter gestation, and from experience many baby heifer calves come early. (We started calving 2 weeks early this year.) Success starts with analyzing your breeding and pregnancy check records.
2. OK ladies…. this one is the great Valentines gift… Prepare the calf bag. What calf bag you may say? We prefer a cloth tool bag. We get ours from Lowes with a $15 price tag. Totally economical. Brock looks like he is carrying a “man bag” when he is walking through the pasture with it! So cute! In the man bag, goes the following things…
- Ear tags
- Ear tagger
- Tag Marker
- Alpha 7 (Blackleg Vaccine, follow your veterinary recommendation )
- Full Bottle of LA300 (We treat each new calf at tagging with 5cc, just as a precautionary measure.)
- Steno notebook to record all calving information. (Essential for record keeping.)
- Ziplock bag (We put the steno in the ziplock bag just in case the LA300 breaks.)
- Ink pen to record calving information.
- Bander with bands to band the bull calves
- 6cc syringes with extra needles. (Follow veterinary recommendations for size.)
This is the best way to process those baby calves before they get too big to handle. It is low stress, and I personally HATE getting baby calves up out of the pasture. Its like herding cats! So frustrating!
3. Isn’t it fun, when the cow calves without any trouble? What happens if there is issues? Here is my list to be prepared. From my experience, its best to “just know” what to hand your farmer when the stress sets in when potentially pulling or assisting the cow calving.
- CLEAN Bucket with warm water and soap or disinfectant.
- CLEAN and DISINFECTED OB chains
- Extra rope halters (We cannot do anything without rope halters in our life. They tie gates, etc always a mainstay in the tool department at Meyer Cattle!)
- Calf Jack
- Old bathroom towels (Help to get that calf dry on cold days.)
- A good veterinarian’s phone number on speed dial. (Ladies, do NOT leave your phone in the house on accident!)
4. OK, the calf is here and ok…. now what? Be sure the calf is sucking and ok. I always be sure to have a clean tube feeder and bagged colostrum at the house, just in case. Inevitably, if there is going to be a problem, it is in the middle of the night, or on a weekend when no retail outlet is open to aid in this. Better safe than sorry.
5. I mentioned this before, but deserves more discussion…. Establish a good relationship with a veterinarian. That person means a lot to the success of your cattle herd. From having an accurate pregnancy check to those dreaded late night calving problem calls, you want to be able to call on someone that you trust and has a vested interest in YOUR success.
6. Weather…. the HUGE factor that influences so much in the agricultural industry. Ladies, help your farmer. Now, in my experience, Brock is the weatherman here at Meyer Cattle. I mean we go from one weather app to the next to determine what the next day has in store for us! We use the WeatherBUGG and Accuweather. Use your smartphone for more than reading this blog or Facebook. Watch the weather and determine if you need to get calving cows up to the barn lot or barn to calve, if you can calve on pasture, and if you need to bed the cows and baby calves on pasture. This is HUGE in your planning endeavor. If you know the weather is going to be rough, you can prepare and have calving pens built, use the pregnancy check sheet and sort up the close to calve cows, bed the babies on the pasture so they can bed down away from the wind and the winter elements.
There you have it ladies…. keys to success for a successful calving season. Share with your farmer! Or better yet, be the leader and start making these things happen for him! Have a great Valentine’s Weekend with your farmer. There is truly no better Valentine out there than a farmer.