There's better ways than this to start calving

For the dairy folks and/or beef folks with questions about udders, milk and mastitis.
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regolith
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There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:14 am

Five year old cow, due on the eighth of the month, she was chasing my dog round the paddock this morning so I guess from now on I'll pick up the dog on the way to the late calvers *after* I've seen to the springer cows.

Was going out this eve so I checked her just after four pm. Down. Went to the shed for calcium and a glove, treated her for milk fever, checked for the calf. Head and feet were right there in the birth canal, smallish calf seemed like it should slide straight out. Cussing myself for not having thrown the calving rope on the bike when I fetched the calcium, also it's nasty cold and I was planning on going straight into the vet for cow coats once I'd seen to her.

Ended up taking my cardigan off to wrap round the calf's legs for a bit better grip. It's a fine big heifer, Jersey-sired, Mum was keen to see her so I pulled her round to her nose, phoned the vets to ask them to put aside two medium cow coats since it's fifteen minutes to closing time and it'll take at least eight minutes to drive there.

I had a bunch of older cows blood tested two weeks ago. Calcium and magnesium levels were all well within optimal range, supplementation of magnesium same as last year, 1.2 - 1.5 times the recommended rates, weather wasn't the best, today's grass break was so big they couldn't eat it all, so there was no excuse for her being hungry today - I'd seen her at lunch time she was up and eating then.
If a healthy five year old cow will go down with milk fever under those conditions I can expect every older cow to get it... wouldn't be the first year that's happened either. According to my records fifteen out of 130 cows went down last calving.

The vet receptionists got a bit alarmed when I started shedding my boots and overalls at their door, and decided to run and give me the cow coats before I stripped any further.
Only problem is, I got back to the paddock with one and put it on her and found it only had one strap. Fastened that strap and hoped for the best. Took the calf back to the shed in case she laid on it while trying to get up, put some frozen colostrum in warm water to defrost and went out.

The calf has had a bottle of colostrum, the cow is up and walking around but she wasn't wearing her coat. I guess I'll need to stitch something onto the tail end of the coat to stop it coming off like that.
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alisonb
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby alisonb » Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:59 am

Sure hope for your sake you are wrong...good luck!
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby bigbull338 » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:39 am

if your thinking youll have that meny milk fevers.id get ready and have everything there that you need to treat them with.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby Nesikep » Thu Jul 03, 2014 10:37 am

Wow, sounds like an ordeal!.. but well, 8 minutes to the vet is pretty good for you! Hope you don't have that many with milk fever too
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regolith
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Thu Jul 03, 2014 2:08 pm

Image

The cow looks pretty steady on her feet this morning, so all good.
Looks like number five is planning to be next to calve. That one's only four years old, no milk fever worry there.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby Putangitangi » Thu Jul 03, 2014 5:57 pm

It has been cold this week! We've had more rain than usual as well. You too, Regolith?
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Thu Jul 03, 2014 6:39 pm

Putangitangi wrote:It has been cold this week! We've had more rain than usual as well. You too, Regolith?


'Lakes in paddocks' type of wet and the wind turned cold two or three days ago. I've been giving the cows extra area to minimise soil pugging.
The rain gauge has only caught about 35 ml this week, and for the water lying around it seems like we ought to have had more than that.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby Putangitangi » Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:03 pm

We've had 82mm this week. Enough! For us it's been cold on the highs - 12 degree days (Celcius) but the nights have stayed above six, so the grass (even the Kikuyu) has kept growing. The cows are fat and healthy, but they'll be horribly muddy before long. Pugging will be an issue again this year, even with light stocking rates. August is always the worst. I don't calve until October.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby brightspark » Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:06 pm

I use to give a vitamin D shot , when you thought she would calve in a day or two , it is suppose to help activate the calcium in the bones it helped for me I dairied in Victoria Australia , or buy a box of cal bags as insurance ,good luck ,have fun
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby branguscowgirl » Fri Jul 04, 2014 10:55 pm

Wow when do you have summer there?
Sure wish you the best with the Milk Fever. I hope the rest of your girls stay well.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby Putangitangi » Fri Jul 04, 2014 11:08 pm

branguscowgirl wrote:Wow when do you have summer there?...
While you're having winter. Hottest months are Jan/Feb.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:37 am

brightspark wrote:I use to give a vitamin D shot , when you thought she would calve in a day or two , it is suppose to help activate the calcium in the bones it helped for me I dairied in Victoria Australia , or buy a box of cal bags as insurance ,good luck ,have fun


I've got enough injectable/oral calcium on hand to treat about the next four cows to go down, so no worries there :) I get used to picking them up again after all these years dealing with milk fever.
Didn't know that about the Vit D. I'll start dosing with the calcium the day I think they're going to calve for cows that are high risk, but still don't prevent them all.

A few dry days forecast for next week, should make a difference.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Sat Jul 12, 2014 4:44 am

Dry cows
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One that isn't dry
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New calvers going home to be milked. The cow on the left is the lowest index cow in the herd while the black one is almost the highest, 183 in the middle is the cow from the previous photo.Image

New calvers today.
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Shot the culprit, but not fast enough for the photo competition:
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Found two so far there must be more, I've lost about twelve seedlings to date with evident signs of slug grazing. This is in my office; frost tender plants being wintered inside. I still haven't figured out how the slugs got there.

This one likes hunting insects. I don't think she's met any live mice yet.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby TexasBred » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:16 am

Rego I know you're dairy is a grazing operation but you must have some problems with the nutrition for those cattle to have that many cases of milk fever. That's just not normal. Might want to sample the grazing and have it tested for calcium, potassium and magnesium levels and especially make sure they do not get an abundance of these minerals during the dry period.
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Re: There's better ways than this to start calving

Postby regolith » Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:17 pm

TexasBred wrote:Rego I know you're dairy is a grazing operation but you must have some problems with the nutrition for those cattle to have that many cases of milk fever. That's just not normal. Might want to sample the grazing and have it tested for calcium, potassium and magnesium levels and especially make sure they do not get an abundance of these minerals during the dry period.


Last time I pasture sampled this farm, this time of year, the sample was considered too dangerous to be grazed with high levels of both potash and nitrates.
However the high level of milk fever has accompanied this herd all across the country with markedly different soil types and nutrient levels on the other farms. We've been working on the fertiliser input and grazing rotations on this one to get the soil tests in better balance.
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