Have facilities ready before you need them
As producers are either calving or preparing for their calving season, it pays to give facilities a once over in case any repairs or restocking might be in order.
Prior to calving, University of Missouri Livstock Field Specalist Eldon Cole advised producers to “think ahead as to what might be used.”
Working facilities, such as chutes, gates and alleys, should be inspected and repaired, if needed. If producers will be utilizing calving stalls, cleaning them out, filling with fresh straw and checking for any hazards that could potentially injure a cow or calf.
Indoor calving or calf care typically requires good lighting. Checking fixtures and replacing broken or burned-out bulbs before calves are in the barn can save producers a headache. If the barn or other calving area does not have electricity, gathering good quality flashlights or spotlights (plus extra batteries) to add to the calving kit can be beneficial to check for and resolve any issues that occur after dark.
Other items that will need stocked or restocked in a calving kit include obstetrical chains and lubricant, plastic sleeves, bottles, colostrum and a calf puller, which should be checked over prior to calving to ensure this important piece of equipment is in good working order. If it is necessary for producers to drive out to their cows to perform a calf check, it is also a good idea to make sure their trucks, tractors and trailers have had routine maintenance and are working properly.
Many producers in the Ozarks conduct their calving seasons outdoor without too much trouble. Cows and calves will need some amount of shelter or windbreaks, so producers may consider moving cattle to pastures with the best cover. This is also a good time to check over the fences where the cows will be calving. If natural windbreaks from cedar trees or other geological features are not readily available, producers can construct a manmade windbreak from round bales.
Wherever the cattle end up, Cole recommended trying to create a creep-style area where calves can safely shelter and move out of the way of the adult cows or their larger calf herd mates.