New calving method being tried at the farm, aiming for births during regular hours

By Tyler Trieglaff

Notes from the Chief

By the time you read this there should be a few new calves on the ground.  April 7th is the due date for the herd so a week to 10 days early is expected.  We have 74 cows to come in after the dead one 3 weeks ago.

The cows will be moved out of their muddy winter-feeding areas to the fresh, dry hay fields.  They will have about 80 acres to freely move about, giving themselves plenty of room to bed down and have their babies.  Of course, with all that freedom, there will still be some issues. One cow had a beautiful calf that ended up in the watering hole and drowned before it had a chance at life. It seems that one has seen all the ways a bovine can perish on the farm and then a new way pops up. 

We are trying a new system this year that will hopefully lead to more calves being born in the daylight.  By feeding the cows in the late afternoon or early evening, studies have shown that 80 percent of the calves will be born between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., making it easier to watch the cows. One always wants nature to take its course, but if one has to intervene it’s much easier to do in the daytime than at 2 in the morning. 

I had heard about daytime calving systems in the past, but this is the first year that it worked for us to switch feeding times. We have been feeding this way for a few weeks now so hopefully the cattle will have their digestion in tow to make for a nicer calving season. I have a few more things to get ready for calving so our “calving kit” is ready to go in case of an emergency.  Soap and warm water, long gloves, lubricants, halter, OB chains, calf puller, OB snare, iodine, replacement/supplement colostrum (150 igg), ear tags, intranasal vaccine, rubber bands for the bull calves and an E. Coli paste to give shortly after birth.  We give the intranasal vaccine and the paste as a little boost to help the newborn get a good start. The best thing for a newborn calf is of course fresh colostrum from mama.  

What is colostrum? Bovine colostrum is the milk produced by cows for the first several days following birthing. It is rich in antibodies, growth factors, cytokines and protects the newborn calf from infections. These antibodies may fight bacteria and viruses that cause diseases. Antibody levels in bovine colostrum can be 100 times higher than levels in regular cow’s milk. The newborn needs to have colostrum shortly after birth to have the best chance in starting out with a fighting chance. Most normal calves will be up and nursing within an hour or 2 after they are born. This is the time that mama is licking them and cleaning them up.  

I will keep you updated with a running total and details of anything exciting that happens in the calving season. Have a good week.

Friday, March 19

11:48 a.m. Vehicle unlock.

3:49 p.m. Received call from a parent who went to pick up their kid from daycare and he was not there.  Within four minutes, party called back and child was found. Child was hiding under the bed.

9:40 p.m. Assist with a medical.

Saturday, March 20

3:49 p.m. Railroad arm 25malfunction at 5th St SW.

4:33 p.m. Party called to report that they had a flat tire on a trailer in a city parking lot and would have it moved tomorrow.

10:11 p.m. Driving complaint of three pickups around town. Taking off loudly from intersections.  Officer was able to talk with two of the drivers and warned about driving conduct.

11:30 p.m. Assist with a welfare check on Lake Six Road.

Monday, March 22

4:58 p.m. Assist with a fire near U.S. 10.

8:38 p.m. Assist with a potentially suicidal female.

Wednesday, March 24

6:44 p.m. Assist with a medical.

Thursday, March 25

7:24 p.m. Landlord calling to ask about a vehicle parked on a rental property.