Calving- 6 Important Things You Need To Know Before Your Cow Gives Birth
Before your cow gives birth, there are six important things you need to know. Calving is the process of birthing a baby cow or bull-called calf. Calving happens in cows after about nine months of pregnancy, just like in humans. Although sometimes, calving may occur much earlier if a cow is exposed to uncomfortable conditions like excessive heat.
The calving season in Africa typically occurs from September to November, which means, calving season is here.
So here are six practices that you should know about calving.
1. Focus on meeting the nutritional needs of heifers and cows ahead of calving season.
During gestation, a cow needs more nutrients than average to support herself and the growing calf to ensure successful calving. It is important that heifers and cows get adequate nutrition during pregnancy and particularly 2-3 months before calving.
Optimal body condition at the time of birthing for heifers and cows is important as it determines their resilience while delivering the newborn calf. The calf’s health and colostrum quality also impact future rebreeding.
2. Subscribe to quality veterinary services like HOINA for your herd ahead of calving season.
Pregnancy is a very vulnerable time for expecting cows, this is why it is important to monitor their health especially before and during calving season.
The herd should undergo a thorough health check by your veterinarian. Historical health issues should also be specifically addressed to mitigate health issues.
In addition, healthy cows or heifers are more likely to have healthy calves, and in turn, increase production and profits on the farm.
3. Make sure all facilities are in good condition.
It is important to have all birthing facilities ready for use ahead of calving season as some calves may arrive before the expected date.
Examine all cattle sheds, gates, maternity pens, reinforce farm walls, repair any leaking roofs, and fix everything that is not in good working condition ahead of calving season.
Also, do a thorough inspection of electrical wiring and lights as good lighting is a vital part of the birthing process. This is because labor can begin or extend into the wee hours of the day. So it is always a good idea to be prepared as calving can be unpredictable.
4. Ensure that your birthing kit set is complete.
Double-check your birthing kit and be sure all the equipment required is functional.
Make sure you have ready your calf puller (in clean and working condition). You will need disposable long sleeve gloves, lubricant, and suction bulbs for newborns. In addition, iodine, torches, ropes, and a toolbox for carrying all these items.
Check that your torches have working batteries and include any other tools that may be required.
5. Research all the information you need on the stages of calving and difficulties that may set in.
There are so many information resources that can help you identify and understand the different stages of the birthing process. “What to Expect When your Cow is in Labor” , a previous blog post on our website and “Calving and Handling Calving Difficulties” by Robert Mortimer DVM from Colorado State University are two such resources. Learn how to assist the cow in case of birthing difficulties. Know when it is time to call your veterinarian.
6. Make plans for a warm shelter to protect against cold in rainy weather.
Cold, wet, and muddy surroundings encourage the spread of infection and disease in livestock. This kind of environment is uncomfortable for the cows and expected calves.
Calves born in such conditions can die from hypothermia. So it is necessary to make sure the birthing environment is dry and warm.
Warm colostrum, warm towels, or in extreme cases, a warm bath might be necessary to have handy in cases of hypothermia.
Putting all these into practice will help to reduce calf mortality and improve farm production over time. For more information on management practices to ensure calving success, visit the Livestock247 blog.
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