Many seedstock producers are already well into the 2016 calving season. We are just a few weeks away from the anticipated calving date of our bred heifers. With the cold weather, it’s important to prepare for the calving season, so you’re not caught off guard when the time comes and you’re scrambling for supplies. Whether you calve in late winter or early spring, here are four tips to prepare for the 2016 calving season:
1. Make a list and check it twice
Do you have the supplies you need to calve out cows? From nurse replacement, to a working scale, to tags and markers, to a record book, to the calf puller in emergencies, it’s that time of year to dust off the supplies and get everything organized and ready to roll. It might also be prudent to review health protocols with your veterinarian and possibly your feeding program with your nutritionist. Even if things seem like old hat to you, it doesn’t hurt to double and triple check things before the busy season of calving gets underway.
2. Take inventory of forage resources
Whether it’s feeding cows with a low body condition score a little better or offering higher quality hay to the herd in the last months of gestation, it’s important to have enough forage stockpiled to get through the winter and to manage the herd in various groups depending on nutritional needs, if at all possible.
Also, don’t let a blizzard catch you off guard. Keep plenty of supplements, feed and other necessities on hand in case you’re unable to have feedstuffs and supplies delivered during poor winter weather.
3. Have labor resources lined up
This time of year is a busy one with feeding hay during the winter months, calving out cows, and also making time to attend events such as bull sales, stock shows, or the upcoming 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in San Diego, just to name a few. If you don’t have a regular hired man, be sure to line up labor for the times you’ll be gone. When leaving the ranch, have your feeding schedule, veterinarian contact and other pertinent information written out for your hired help to reference while you’re gone. If possible, line up a backup just in case your hired help isn’t able to be there as planned.
4. Plan for the best, prepare for the worst
Hopefully, when you made your breeding decisions last year, you kept in mind calving ease, time of the year, and your operation’s ability to handle X many new calves on the ground based on your available barn space (if needed during poor winter weather). When we plan for the best and make decisions based on our labor, forage and operation’s resources, things typically go smoothly. However, we all know that things rarely go as planned, so preparing for the worst allows ranchers to respond quickly and efficiently to emergencies, breakdowns or unexpected blizzards.
Here’s hoping the 2016 calving season goes smoothly for all of us cow-calf operators with good weather, healthy cows and calves, and safe ranchers!
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.
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