28 May 2021 Spring Calving Season
We delivered 95 live calves this calving season – 3 more than 2020. The weather for this year’s calving season was particularly brutal. We endured 2 back-to-back ice storms in February. Alternating freezing temperatures and mud are always challenging elements to deal with. Fortunately, last year we added a second compacted gravel pad for the cows and calves to use. I am reminded of airport runways when I see these pads. We unroll hay on these pads. The cows and calves gather here in the evening to rest comfortably. The pads preserve the hay quality throughout the nights.
We try constantly to recognize the early signs of labor in the cows so we can put these animals inside our “hospital” building. Here, cows can be monitored by live cameras and we can help the mom out at the first sign of any problem. During the first month of calving season, we are trying to get used to living without any sleep. We check the fields and hospital every two hours day and night; more if needed.
The weather compromised a few calves this season. Typically, any calf that shows signs of illness is immediately placed inside with mom. The body temperature is monitored and banamine (kind of like ibuprofen for animals) is given if needed. Often, we will set an IV and give weak calves fluids. This is a very effective treatment, though it does take some work. Some farms rely on antibiotics and time. We think we get much quicker results from the additional fluids. Antibiotics need a few days to be effective. If a calf gets dehydrated in the meantime, the calf’s condition can quickly become critical.
Our goal is to limit our calving season to 70 days. It is so nice to see the grass turn green in the spring!