It's an early winter morning, dark and chilly, but Northland dairy farmer Jane Hutchings couldn’t be happier.
According to DairyNZ, now is the time help your farm team get set up early for a smoother calving season.
- Supplies of metabolics, electrolytes, navel spray etc. on hand or ordered
- New team members up to date on farm policies and what to expect during calving
- Calf trailer and feeding equipment clean and disinfected
- Calf shed clean and disinfected and all repairs and maintenance done
- Designated sick calf area ready
- Fresh bedding laid in calf shed
- Calving kit prepared.
A well-stocked calving kit will save you making trips between the paddock and the shed.
Planning and preparing for calving with your farm team will reduce stress when calving is in full swing and help it run smoothly.
Hold a team meeting prior to calving and decide who will do what and when. Record the plan where everyone can see it.
Introduce new staff to systems and processes so everyone is on the same page when calving starts. Establish a roster and make sure staff know how to fill out timesheets.
Eating well is important and some owners provide staff with crock pots; keep healthy snacks at the shed or have a cooked breakfast together after milking.
Watch for signs of stress, meet regularly and talk often.
Keep your calving kit at the gate of the springer paddock.
Have a team member in charge of making sure it is restocked regularly.
Calving kit contents
- Bucket with a lid to contain kit (tape a checklist of contents inside the lid).
- Metabolics (clearly labelled milk fever treatments and starter drench).
- 3 calving ropes or chains (strong, supple and cleaned after each use).
- 2 litre container of lube (a plunger pump is an easy way to dispense lube if hands are busy).
- Towel and soap for cleaning hands
- Notebook and pencil (A pencil will still work in wet conditions, unlike a pen).
- Ear tags or other calf identification system (Pre numbered tags with corresponding numbers on a record sheet will save time and reduce the chance of recording mistakes).
- Spray paint, red plus another colour (red can be used as a warning colour. e.g. withhold milk. Communicate this with staff).
- Gloves for rectal or other exam
- Head torch and spare batteries
- Iodine spray pre-mixed with water (do not use teat dip as an alternative).
- Key contact numbers (vet, manager) on laminated sheet. Save numbers in phone).
- Calving intervention guide
- Food/energy bars.