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Author Topic: Any vital supplies for calving?  (Read 1119 times)

laura_nash

  • Joined Jun 2019
Any vital supplies for calving?
« on: January 23, 2021, 11:01:08 pm »
We have two Dexter cows (and 3 of their previous calves of various ages).  Both are older (12 & 14) and have had plenty of calves before.  For the last few years before we got them they were owned by someone that kept well over 100 living out "ranch style" so they are used to calving without any human involvement or assistance.

Only one of the calves was born with us and we did no prep as we had no idea she was in calf (should have been impossible as her previous calf was supposed to have been born 2 weeks before we got her and last week of that she was supposed to have been housed away from the bull).  She was extremely underweight when we got her so her increasing belly size didn't register as much as it should have done.

She is now back in calf (due in March) and I am wondering if there are any essential supplies we should get in before the birth?  We have a calf coat, but that is it.  I'm not thinking about bigger stuff like calving aids etc, we are surrounded by helpful neighbours with cows and will get the vet for anything complicated.  There are also plenty of farm supply shops very locally so no need to get in stuff we may or may not need the day or days after.

The cow in calf is not the tamest, she tolerates humans (especially if they have food) but she won't be open to any help unless its forced on her.  We do have a race with a head gate so this is an option if it becomes absolutely necessary.  I have been reading up but most of the recommended kit lists are very comprehensive for farmers with large numbers of cows and a high likelihood of issues.  One thing I was wondering about was getting in a calcium injection in case of milk fever, though I don't know how likely that is with a Dexter.

If anyone else has a small number of cows they breed, what would you recommend to have handy for calving (if anything)?

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2021, 07:21:34 am »
Iodine for the navel, I wouldn’t worry about calcium as if she has milk fever you’d probably ring the vet anyhow. We have 40 sucklers and very rarely have milk fever.

They also get a tube of rota-paste as soon as they are born, it seems to give them a boost to get up and sucking. You could always get 1 in, they vary from £5-9 per tube.


Keep an eye on the calf for scour in the first 2 weeks as they will go downhill very quickly. If they do get scour, get the vet to test it so you know how to treat it, and drench with electrolytes 2 or 3 times a day.


Other than that we use a pre calver mineral bucket. You could get some powdered colostrum in as that is always handy to have just in case.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2021, 07:48:41 am by twizzel »

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2021, 10:51:15 pm »
Either some powdered colostrum, or, better still, some colostrum from a neighbouring cow in your freezer. 

I only have 2 cows but I keep a stomach tube kit just in case calfie can't suck (and is born at 1am...)

Calfie needs to get some colostrum within 2-4 hours of birth, and if Mum can't or won't play ball, you need to be able to step in.  If calfie can't or won't suck, use the stomach tube.

You could probably get away with using a lamb anti-vac feeding bottle if you had to, and buy a proper calf bottle when the shops are open if Mum hasn't been able to take over by then.

Mum could be very dangerous when calving or just calved, so make sure you have a penning arrangement where you can keep yourselves safe and get to the calf if need be. 

Rope halter for mum.  Even if she isn't trained to it, you may have to lassoo her and tie her up to get calfie onto the teat.  (It's rare with Dexters, especially an experienced cow, but sometimes mineral or other deficiencies can show up as a calf - or lamb - being very half-hearted about feeding.)

Almost certainly you will need none of it, but it's so much better to have it and not need it than the opposite! 


Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Backinwellies

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Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2021, 07:27:37 am »
Only one of the calves was born with us and we did no prep as we had no idea she was in calf (should have been impossible as her previous calf was supposed to have been born 2 weeks before we got her and last week of that she was supposed to have been housed away from the bull). 

cows will often come on heat within days of giving birth ... so keep away from bull!

Also do you have her calf?   Passport should show accurate date of birth. (there are some less reliable farmers I guess)
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

http://nantygroes.blogspot.co.uk/
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oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2021, 08:30:44 pm »
I'd say get some calcium (and a flutter valve) your chances of needing it might be low but its only a fiver and if a cow does go down with milk fever then there's a fair chance she will be dead before the vet gets there.  A bottle of calcium under the skin will hopefully keep her alive long enough for the vet to get there and put more into a big vein. It happens fast.

At least that's my experience with a Shetland cow that went down a couple of years ago.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2021, 11:06:50 pm »
I'd say get some calcium (and a flutter valve) your chances of needing it might be low but its only a fiver and if a cow does go down with milk fever then there's a fair chance she will be dead before the vet gets there.  A bottle of calcium under the skin will hopefully keep her alive long enough for the vet to get there and put more into a big vein. It happens fast.

At least that's my experience with a Shetland cow that went down a couple of years ago.

Yes, I second this.  I knew there was something else, couldn't bring it to mind!
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

laura_nash

  • Joined Jun 2019
Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2021, 10:05:15 pm »
Thanks for all the replies.

I will definitely get the calcium and valve, thanks.

We already have a rope halter and iodine, and they have a mineral bucket.

Will also look into colostrum and the stuff to get it into the calf, fingers crossed we don't need to do that.  Her last calf was already up and running around before we realised she'd had him.

laura_nash

  • Joined Jun 2019
Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2021, 10:09:49 pm »
Mum could be very dangerous when calving or just calved, so make sure you have a penning arrangement where you can keep yourselves safe and get to the calf if need be.

Thanks, yes, we have a good penning arrangement for that (put in place for ear tagging the last calf).

laura_nash

  • Joined Jun 2019
Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2021, 10:23:56 pm »
Only one of the calves was born with us and we did no prep as we had no idea she was in calf (should have been impossible as her previous calf was supposed to have been born 2 weeks before we got her and last week of that she was supposed to have been housed away from the bull). 

cows will often come on heat within days of giving birth ... so keep away from bull!

Also do you have her calf?   Passport should show accurate date of birth. (there are some less reliable farmers I guess)

Yes we have her calf, but I suspect that for her previous owner "date of birth" is more "date I noticed she'd had a calf" - after all they were living out on a massive acreage up a mountain in Ballina.  Comparing his size when he arrived with his half-brother at the same age I have my doubts about his real age.  I guess I could be wrong though, I thought I'd read that they couldn't come on heat for 3 weeks after the birth so must have mis-understood.

laura_nash

  • Joined Jun 2019
Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2021, 08:51:38 pm »
Just wanted to update, she popped out the calf no problem a little over a week ago.  Both doing very well, piccie attached.  Thanks for the help.

Backinwellies

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Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2021, 07:49:28 am »
One thing that wasnt mentioned as vital........ order ear tags.    If this calf is now a week old it should have been tagged by now. You cant register birth and get passport until tags are printed and this must be done within 3 days of birth.    I know as only having one or 2 calves a year I often forget this.
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

http://nantygroes.blogspot.co.uk/
www.nantygroes.co.uk
Nantygroes  facebook page

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2021, 08:09:29 am »
Beef calves need to be registered within 27 days and tagged within 20 days. Dairy cattle need to be primary tagged within 36 hours and registered within 27 days. Castrating needs to be done in first week of life if using rubber ring. We tag as soon as possible after birth as we tissue tag for BVD.


If you’ve not got tags get them ordered ASAP- manufacturers are busy at the mo- ordered a new run from Shearwell last week and the lead time is 2 weeks.

Backinwellies

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Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2021, 06:40:28 am »
Happy to be corrected here ..... however tagging a 20 day old is a different job to a 2 day old one!  :eyelashes:
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

http://nantygroes.blogspot.co.uk/
www.nantygroes.co.uk
Nantygroes  facebook page

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2021, 08:17:43 am »
Yes but still legal, your post made it sound like they have to be legally tagged and registered by 3days old. Earlier is better though. In the summer we will tag as soon as calf is licked dry as it’s the only time we can catch it  :roflanim:

laura_nash

  • Joined Jun 2019
Re: Any vital supplies for calving?
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2021, 09:28:51 pm »
No worries, he's tagged now and BVD sample sent off.

We did end up doing it a little later than ideal, she calved about 2 hours before it started hailing heavily so we decided to put her and the calf in the barn for a few days.  Unfortunately being separated from the others put her into major over-protective mode so we gave her a few days to calm down and get used to her new circumstances and let him leave her side a bit more before we tagged, which wasn't great for OH's arm muscles holding him when the time came but went pretty smoothly without too much stress from either of them so I think it was the right decision.

 

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