Teton County is truly lucky to have such good veterinarians serving our area. I was able to reach out to them for the information in this article. Despite being busy with their practices, they all took the time to answer my questions and share some good tips for producers calving now or in the near future.
This week, the focus will be on preparing for calving. I know all too well that there are many producers that are in the thick of it now. But for those about a month out yet, the vets all agreed that ramping up the nutrition of the herd is critical for a successful calving season.
Just a note for next year: improved nutrition during the entire last trimester is best. Increasing protein and energy intake is especially important for the cow’s ability to care for her calf and results in a more vigorous newborn calf. A good mineral program, with copper and zinc, can also be a key component to reducing problems during calving. The main issues they see during calving are calves that are too big (common in first-year heifers) and calves in the wrong position to be born. Sickness, or pathogens, can also be among the top reasons for a producer to call in a vet. Working with your vet on a vaccination program for next year might help with these issues, too.
They recommended producers look at their calving equipment and make sure it is clean, functioning and re-stocked. Items such as OB gloves, OB chains, handles and pullers should be ready to go before calving starts. Continued cleanliness of the equipment and the facilities throughout the calving season goes a long way to avoiding the spread of illness. When it comes to facilities for handling cows in distress, safety was the priority among the vets. The facility does not have to be elaborate, but should have a way to restrain the cow and be clear of obstructions so the vet can examine the cow.
The animal’s left side should be easily accessible should she need a caesarean. In the case of a C-section, having someone to assist the vet can be especially helpful. In some situations, taking the animal to the vet clinic for treatment would also be a good option.
In next week’s article, I will include information about the value of colostrum and more. Thank you to these hardworking veterinarians who took the time to visit with me including Dr. Kurt Johnson, DVM; Dr. Craig Moore, DVM; Dr. Clint Hilt, DVM and Dr. Bob Lee, DVM.