Getting through calving

by Ann van Engelen

The busy time of year is here for anyone who has cows ready to calve and whether you have five cows or hundreds, this time of year can mean long hours and stressful situations.

It is important to work out how we can be the best we can be, together with planning and preparation in advance for a successful season with your team.

It is essential that new team members are up to date on farm policies and what to expect during calving. Hold a meeting prior to calving and decide who will do what and when. Record the plan where everyone can see it as this will reduce stress when calving is in full swing. Establish a roster and make sure everyone knows how to fill out timesheets if necessary.

Thoroughly clean, disinfect and do all repairs and maintenance to your calf trailer, calf shed and feeding equipment. Lay fresh bedding in the shed and designate a sick calf area and make sure this is changed when needed.

Have a pre-calving checklist and supplies ready including metabolics, electrolytes and navel spray. Keep your calving kit at the gate of the springer paddock and have a team member in charge of restocking this regularly.

Make sure you have your local veterinarian’s phone number on hand for emergency situations and use it immediately when necessary as animal welfare is a priority. Remember eating well is important and consider providing staff with crock pots, healthy snacks at the shed or cooked meals.

Some people have breakfast together after milking as a way to catch up and always watch for signs of stress amongst your team, meet regularly and talk often. For more information on what to put in your calving kit, rosters and staff wellbeing visit the DairyNZ website.