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Calving: What possibly could go wrong?

While many ranchers have moved calving dates later in the spring, problems can still occur. Here are some tips to get you through one of the busiest times of the year.

 For the nearly 90% of ranchers who have a spring calving herd, this is the time of year that they likely look forward to the most and perhaps dread the most as well.

Indeed, in many respects, calving time is when the production year begins. It’s a report card on an important part of your genetics and how well breeding season went, an update on your herd health program and a promise of what the summer and fall have in store.

When things go well, it’s not so bad—a little sleep deprived, perhaps, but not too bad. But when things don’t go well, it may be the start of a difficult year.

Our first guest is J. David Nichols, managing partner of Nichols Farms, LTD, a family owned operation which combines seedstock production, cattle feeding, and farming in southwest Iowa. Nichols Farms is the largest seedstock operation in the Midwest and sells about 500 head of production and DNA tested bulls each year.

Our second guest is Jeff Ondrak, a beef cattle clinical veterinarian at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center near Clay Center, Neb. His responsibilities include teaching veterinary students in clinical electives, providing veterinary service to the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, and conducting research focused on bovine reproduction with a special interest in bovine trichomoniasis.

The Beef Roundtable is a joint project with BEEF and Purdue University. It’s a monthly video podcast that features some of the top leaders in the beef industry co-hosted by Ron Lemenager, Extension beef specialist at Purdue University and BEEF Senior Editor Burt Rutherford.

In addition to being available on, the sessions can be viewed at, on the Beef Roundtable YouTube channel and iTunes.

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