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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nesting in a Big Way Part II

Earlier this week I shared some of the things we gather to get ready for calving season here.  Here is some more of the top 10 items we gather before we start calving.  As you can see, I still need to get some of the items cleaned up in the next couple of days.

6. Water and feed pans

I like to gather extra feed and water pans before calving.  If heifers need to be put in the barn, they have to be penned separately with their calf which means we need several feed pans and water holding tubs.

7.  Hot Box, Calf Blankets and old blankets or towels
Think of this like a calf sized incubator.  If we have a calf born on a cold day or they have a mom that doesn’t want to lick them and dry them off, we put them in this Hot Box.  It has a heater that warms and dries the calf, so I can go check on other cows and calves.  It has a flap that the calf can walk out when they want to, but I have only had one calf ever walk out in the last 7 years.
That’s right!  We have blankets made just for calves to wear.  These work great for calves that need to stay in the barn or are abandoned by their mother.  I also keep lots of thick old blankets around in case we don't have room in the Hot Box or to keep a calf warm on the way home from the pasture.

8.  Flashlight
Heifers are our first time mothers.  Unlike, people we do not have Lamaze classes for these girls.  We check them at night sometimes multiple times to make sure they aren’t having trouble.  A good flashlight is a must…usually one that is rechargeable.

9.  Sidewalk Chalk and Clip Board
As our heifers have babies, we move them to another pasture.  We have found that it reduces the amount of illness we have in the calves, but it adds a level of confusion and constant change.  I have found that taking a piece of the boys sidewalk chalk keeps everyone up to date.  I mark off when we move a new pair then anyone who goes through that gate knows how many cows to look for.

The list of cows on our clip board becomes very important about day 35.  Often we sort the cows that are left to calve and bring them to one pasture for closer observation.  At the end of 45 days and 200+ calves, things start to blur in the mind and sleep deprivation may be setting in as well, so no I don't know that calf 155 goes with cow number 15.  Disappointing to some of you I am sure.  If a calf gets sick, we can quickly look at the list and locate his mama if they need to be kept in the "hospital" pen for closer observation and treatment.

10.  Ear Tags
We try to tag every calf when they are born.  Why?  If the cow or calf gets sick and needs to go home, then we know who they belong to, just like babies and their mamas have matching bracelets in the hospital.

I know I said this was my top 10 list but, there is one item that we use that we have found we can't do without.

  11.  Calf Sled
Think about the wheeled basinets in the hospital.  We can put a calf in this sled, place the net over the top of him so he doesn’t fall out and move him to the barn or take him to the veterinarian.  Since the calf is on ground level, the mama will follow the calf if we tow it behind a truck or 4 wheeler and we can keep her in the pen until the calf is ready to be with her again.  This can be a real back saver.  You might imagine that a slimy wet calf is hard to hang on to and nearly impossible for 2 people to try to wrangle.  With the sled, we can slide the calf in (even if they weigh over 100 pounds) and 2 or 3 of us can lift it onto the truck or into the trailer.

What questions to do you have about our soon to be here babies?  What pictures would you like to see?  Let me know here or on my Facebook page and I will see if I can get the information or visuals you want.

Have a great week!
-A Kansas Farm Mom