In terms of major events on the cattle calendar, I reckon calving is probably the biggest event. Its important to manage this event well, as a good calving season will impact on your short and longer term productivity and profitability.
You should aim to put your cows into paddocks where you can supervise them during calving.
Ideally you should be able to access yards easily if you do need to provide assistance.
Your calving paddocks need to have good shelter, access to water and most importantly sufficient pasture.
Many people don’t realise how much extra energy their cows require once a calf is born. Once that calf arrives, the energy requirements of the cow will effectively double. If the amount of available pasture, or the quality of the pasture is insufficient, your cow will lose weight and she may also produce less milk which will impact on the growth of your calf.
In the longer term, weight loss post calving will impact on the fertility levels of your herd. Cows which are in low fat scores at calving, eg Fat Score 2, will take much longer to return to oestrus. In practical terms, this will see less cows going into calf at joining time, or a longer and more spread out joining which then impacts on next years calving.
Calving is a challenge particularly for first calf heifers, especially if they are calving as 2 year olds. This group of females requires a lot more attention, both during the calving period, and immediately post calving.
I reckon managing feed for your newly calved cows is the most important task. Using an appropriate supplement can help your cows use paddock feed more efficiently and meet some of the energy requirements placed on them as lactating cows.
Ensuring your cow nutrition is correct will help ensure your longer term goals for a fertile productive herd can be met more easily.
The critical time of calving is the during calving and immediately and the months leading up to joining. Well supervised, well fed cows will be much better suited to joining, while their calves will be better grown and more robust which is important for your future enterprise goals.
By Alastair Rayner RaynerAg