The 3 C’s of a Successful Calving Season:

Cow Nutrition - In utero, the calf relies solely on the cow for nutrition, immunity, and overall protection.  As producers, you need to ensure that the cow is getting all of the proper vitamins, minerals, and all nutrition so that the calf is not compromised when it hits the ground.
Clean Environment - When the cow is calving, make sure that you are keeping an eye on it and that you are prepared to assist if needed.  During this time of the year with the cold temperatures, be sure that your cows are calving in a sheltered area with plenty of straw bedding to help keep the calves clean and warm once they arrive.
Colostrum - The calf should be standing and trying to suckle on the cow’s teats.  Getting the calf to suckle the cow’s milk is critical.  The calf is born with a suppressed immune system (as mentioned earlier, the calf has been relying on the cow for that).  The first milk that the cow produces is called colostrum and is full of high concentrations of nutrients and antibodies.  By the calf ingesting this, the calf will use the cow’s antibodies for its immune defense until it starts building its own.  This is why the first feedings of the calf are so important.  You may need to give assistance to this process, especially on 1st calf heifers that need extra guidance as they have never done this before and on calves that have had a more difficult birth.  Always have an alternative colostrum source available, examples:  frozen colostrum and powdered replacers, that you can use if needed.

Lifestyle Feed Specialist, Sarah Breuer