My husband Tyler and I invested in a group of bred heifers that were due to calve a month ahead of the group we keep at my dad’s place. This being our first year of calving a group out at our home place, we asked for the essentials of calving season on our Christmas wish lists. While it might seem to some like a lame Christmas present, Tyler and I were like little kids in a candy store as we opened up boxes of tags, markers, slings, scales, and the other little things one needs to have on hand when delivering baby calves.
This week, our first calves started coming in. Even though we felt organized and prepared for calving season to begin, we were still scrambling to get acclimated to a new system as we calve out cows in a different location than we normally do.
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My dad came over yesterday and helped me with a calf that was small and slow to get up, and I wasn’t surprised when he pointed out a few things we
could rearrange and fix in our calving barn set-up. As we adjust our system and plan for the next set of babies to come in, I thought it might be handy to put together a calving-season checklist. While not every item is needed for every calf, there are always unique situations where the little things come in very handy.
Here are the must-haves for a successful calving season:
- Ear tags
- Tagger (and a spare)
- Calving book for record-keeping
- A list for when everything is due and what they are bred to
- The veterinarian’s number on speed dial
- Milk tuber
- Pitcher to milk the cow with
- Calf boost
- Scour pills
- Bolus gun
- Duct tape or ear muffs of some sort to pin ears down on cold nights
- Sled with ropes to pull calves out of the snow and to the barn
- Calf catch
- Scale and sling for weighing the calf
- Calf puller and chains
- Plastic gloves
- Milk replacer
- A sedative of sorts for the occasional surly cow that needs milking out
- A list of potential culls based on poor udders, bad dispositions, tough calving, old age, etc.
- Sorting sticks
- Square bales for bedding and feed when the pairs are in the barn
- Coveralls, gloves, hats, boots, long johns, wool socks, etc.
- A hot box, heater or place in the basement bath tub for cold calves
- Clean towels
What did I miss? What would you add or take off the list? What are your must-have items for a successful calving season? Do you have everything lined up and ready to go for calving? Share in the comments section below.
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