Rhoades ryan
Assistant Professor / Beef Extension Specialist / Colorado State University
Ahola jason
Associate Professor / Beef Management Systems / Colorado State University

Calving season is now upon us and perhaps the most important time period of the year. Being prepared with a concrete plan will improve your chances for success. The management choices made prior to calving can significantly influence profitability. Since having a live, healthy calf is so critical to our bottom line, here are a couple of considerations to help set us up for success.roundup west commodities

  • Is your ranch prepared? Having all facilities and equipment in good working order is key. Calving areas should be clean and provide some type of shelter to mitigate cold stress. Cold stress can increase birthweights and mortality of calves.

    Once your facilities are ready, a calving kit should be assembled and accessible to everyone who will assist with calving. Some basic items might include: OB chains, plastic gloves or sleeves, iodine, lubricant, towels and a flashlight.

  • Are your cows prepared? Cow nutritional requirements increase during the last trimester. It is important to monitor body condition to assess the nutritional status of your cow herd. Cows should enter the calving season in a body condition score 5 or 6. Heifers should be gaining weight.

    Research consistently suggests that a higher plane of nutrition can significantly impact the number of calves born or weaned, and feeding your cows will not result in increased calving difficulty. Additionally, changing your feeding time regimen from morning to early evening can increase the proportion of cows calving during the day by up to 30 percent.

    A pre-calving vaccination program is also wise to implement. There are several diseases that can be vaccinated for, depending on your herd’s risk level and health history. Consult your veterinarian to develop a vaccination plan.

  • Are you prepared? Finally, before calving season begins, know expected calving dates, develop a protocol and determine labor needs. Don’t get caught off-guard. Gestation length can be shorter than anticipated, especially when using low-birthweight bulls or calving heifers.

    A good calving protocol should include complete instructions for what to do, how to diagnosis a problem and who to call if assistance is required. Carefully review this protocol with everyone assisting. Calving season will most likely require extra labor.

    Labor requirements will vary according to calving date, severity of conditions and available facilities. Make sure you have identified and budgeted for some qualified help prior to the calving season.