Beware of over-conditioned autumn calving sucklers

Suckler herds are gearing up for calving autumn cows and for creep feeding spring born calves.

At this time of year, almost all sucklers will calve while outdoors.

But make sure you have everything ready for action indoors, just in case you need to assist in any births.

Disinfect calving boxes before the season gets going.

Check that the water troughs in the calving boxes are working.

Dust down the calving jack and ensure it is working properly and that the two ropes are present and correct.

Ensure your calving camera is working correctly, and that the calving gate (if you have one) is fully functioning.

Remember that cows can get very aggressive around calving, so properly working equipment is essential.

And if you are in doubt about a calving, call your vet sooner rather than later.

Feeding dry sucklers

It is important that you don’t have sucklers over-conditioned at calving.

Ideally, cows should be dried off in the condition you would like to calve them in.

Suckler cows that are too fat at calving tend to have more difficult calvings, and metabolic disorders, such as milk fever and held cleanings.

This may also have a negative effect on subsequent fertility performance.

Keeping cows on a relatively low plane of nutrition may involve dry cows running behind young-stock, cows with calves or finishers.

This allows the productive animals get the best of the grass, while the dry cows can tidy up behind.

It is important for grass quality that the dry cows follow the other stock within 24 to 48 hours, otherwise they will eat regrowths rather than the grass left behind.

If you must graze dry sucklers on good quality swards, then you should use a strip wire, and consider supplementing with some straw to restrict their total energy intake.

Keep a good quality pre-calver mineral in front of all dry sucklers for at least four or five weeks before calving.

If you know of specific mineral deficiencies on your farm, then you may need to give cows a bolus or get a specific mineral premix made up.

Also, keep a close eye on dry cows for mastitis, as there has been a lot of it reported in the last few weeks.

Calved cows

Once cows have calved, it is essential to get sufficient colostrum into calves.

If calves are slow to drink, or cows won’t stand for the calf, get them indoors so that you can milk the cow and get the calf fed.

Get fresh cows and calves on to good quality grass as soon as possible, to boost the cow’s energy intake for milk production and recovery.

This will help to get the next breeding season running more smoothly.

Monitor cows for metabolic disorders in the first few days after calving, and continue to supplement with magnesium.

Many farmers dose fresh cows for internal and external parasites at calving.


A Spectacular 28.86-carat ring, the largest D-colour diamond ever offered online, will come up at Christie's Jewels in New York from June 16-30.High value diamond adds serious sparkle to online sale

A whiff of new normality is in the air, writes Des O'SullivanAntiques: How to put a post-lockdown world in the frame

Buy everything on Michelle Darmody’s list and create five meals.One List, Five Meals: Irish stew with a twist; Yellow Pepper Omelette

‘There are two of us, in it together’From Chestnut to Sage - how family food businesses, real labours of love, are coping with Covid

More From The Irish Examiner