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COVID & calving — start your preparations ASAP

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Anticipate shipping, manufacturing and retail delays due to the ongoing pandemic. Start preparing now for a successful calving season.


The spring calving season is just around the corner, and for some it has already started. Our first calves are due around Valentine’s Day, and we have begun preparations to ensure that we are ready when the time comes.

Moving wind breaks, setting up pens in our barn, filling up generators, lining up bedding and getting supplies are at the top of our list.

On a recent trip to town to pick up ear tags and markers, I realized it might be good to alert you to some challenges we may face due to delays in shipping and manufacturing in retail because of the ongoing pandemic.

I would encourage everyone to take stock of current inventory they have on hand — from veterinary supplies to personal items they use in their homes — and make sure you have things in stock instead of waiting for the last minute.

To assist you in preparing for calving season, I’ve put together an extensive list of items you may or may not need. Some of these items are for extreme emergencies, and others are intended to help you prepare your facilities for calving cows and first-calf heifers.

This post isn’t intended to advocate for one set time of calving season over another, and obviously, some items are dependent on your environment, time of calving and other variables. However, feel free use this template as a checklist for your next online order or trip to town, and please add suggestions in the comments section below.

  • Portable panels
  • Bedding
  • Working lights
  • Well-oiled head gate/chute
  • Knipco heater or calf warming box
  • Calf-pulling tools
  • Colostrum and milk replacement
  • NurseMate
  • Ear tags
  • Markers
  • Tagger (and a spare)
  • Tattoo equipment and ink
  • Calving book or app for record keeping
  • A reference list of due dates based off your pregnancy-checking records. Also be sure to track cows for poor udders, dispositions, dystocia problems, etc. as they calve.
  • Phone numbers for local veterinarians
  • Oral tuber
  • Calf boost
  • Syringe
  • 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 to collect birth weights
  • Lasso
  • Halter
  • Plastic gloves
  • Coveralls, gloves, hats, boots, long johns, wool socks
  • Clean towels
  • Also add any vaccinations, dewormers or lice treatments that you may administer during the winter months.

Starting early ensures you have what you need when you need it, so don’t delay. Here’s to planning ahead to ensure a successful calving season without stress!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

TAGS: Farm Life
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