Are You Prepared for Spring Calving?

Posted: January 6, 2015

beef calves form-a-feed

If you look out the window today or anytime recently it would be hard to believe that spring may only be a few weeks away.  However, a quick look at the calendar will tell you that spring, and with it spring calving, is right around the corner.

By now, many spring-calving cows are in their third trimester.  That means that the fetal calf is now growing at a rapid rate and will put on 75% of its birth weight during the final trimester.  With that rapid fetal growth it is important to remember that the fetal calf relies upon the cow for all nutrients.  And who provides the nutrients to that cow?  You, the cow/calf producer.

It is not just about providing nutrients such as water, protein, energy, vitamins and minerals, it is about providing a good environment for the cow to be able to utilize those nutrients for her own body maintenance and to support fetal growth.  This is particularly important in winter where there is always a risk of extreme cold.  A cow’s energy requirement increases approximately 1% for every degree below 20°F.  Therefore, on a day with an average temp of -5°F, that cows require an extra 25% energy for maintenance.  Some of this will be attained through increased intake, but some will likely have to come from increased energy in the feed.  You can also help create a better environment for cows by ensuring that plenty of clean, dry bedding is provided and windbreaks and shelters are in place.  Having a warm, dry place for cows can reduce the amount of extra energy needed for maintenance and fetal growth.

We also need to ensure that cows are in proper condition for re-breeding shortly after calving.  Research trials have shown that cows with a body condition score between five and seven will rebreed at a much greater rate than those with a lesser body condition score.  After calving, cows will divert most of their attention to supporting their newborn calf, so any improvements in body condition should be made now to ensure that cows are prepared for both calving and re-breeding.

A proper vitamin and mineral program is most important for the final trimester. Among other things, minerals and vitamins are important for calving ease, absorption of nutrients, calf vigor and health, response to vaccinations and treatments, and re-breeding.  Form-A-Feed’sPowerPro mineral line provides all the necessary nutrients needed to prepare cows for calving and by extension prepare calves for a healthy, profitable life.  Looking at current prices being paid for feeder calves, it makes a lot of sense to provide proper vitamin and mineral nutrition to ensure that these calves get off to the best start possible.

Finally, this is the time to prepare equipment and housing for calving.  These items may include calving pens, calving and obstetric equipment, lights and heaters, and bedding.  It is also a good idea to make sure you have some tools on hand to help calves that may be struggling with digestive issues such as scours after birth.  Items such as Stealth-5 soluble or Calf Renew boluses are tools that can help to clear up scours in calves.

Whether your cows are calving in days, weeks, or months, it is never too early to begin preparation for this important time of year.  Work with your Form-A-Feed representative to ensure that you are properly prepared for all the excitement that calving brings!