Calving season problem due to cow over-conditioning

Calving in spring herds is well under way at this stage.

As with each calving season, you can gauge how it will go, based on the first couple of calvings.

Any issues encountered in the first few births need to be addressed ASAP.

Issues such as big calves, slow calvings, held cleanings, digestive upsets, and weak or dead calves, must not be ignored in the hope that all will be OK.

Young calf health

Unfortunately, many I have spoken to recently are reporting a significant amount of scour in young calves.

Where possible, try to keep older calves away from younger ones, as this contact can be a significant cause of transfer of bugs.

Try to keep calf beds clean and dry, with plenty of straw.

Try where possible to clean out calving boxes regularly (ideally between each calving), and to have them limed and disinfected.

If you vaccinate for scour, you must make sure that calves get sufficient colostrum within six hours of birth, so that they get the required amount of antibodies.

If you have been getting scour in calves over the last few years, you really should consider vaccinating.

Big calves

There seems to be a lot of higher than normal calving difficulty in suckler herds.

This issue is mostly down to the diet being fed to the dry cows not being fit for purpose.

Big calves are not the only issue, as many cows are over-conditioned, and their birth canal has large fat deposits which restrict the birth of the calf. This issue needs to be tackled immediately, by diluting down the energy supplied from high quality silage.

Most silages will be supplying far more than maintenance for dry suckler cows.

The addition of straw to the dry cow’s diet will be the most practical method of doing this on most farms.

This will also help to slow down silage usage.

If you know the quality of your silage, it makes it easier to determine the amount of straw to feed.

Don’t forget to supplement cows with a good quality pre-calver mineral.

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