Workshops prepare farmers for the ‘busy time’

Planning, planning and more planning is the key to a smooth and stress-free calving, according to DairyNZ animal care team manager Helen Thoday.

“Ensuring the entire farm team is working to the same plan will help calving be less stressful,” says Helen.

“Having everyone on the same page also supports good farm routines and ultimately means calves get a good start to life.”

DairyNZ is holding CalvingSmart workshops throughout the country, offering farm staff at all experience levels the latest tips and techniques to prepare for the calving season.

The workshops are divided into streams, with farmers in their first season attending a new skills session to learn the signs of calving, stages of labour, identifying when to assist calving cows, safe handling of newborn calves and transporting calves.

Decision-maker sessions explore what it would take to be world-leading in on-farm animal care, as well as calf-rearing and system designs that work for calves and the team.

Farm teams come together in the afternoon to attend team sessions, discussing how they can work better together to save time and provide good animal care, along with boosting team morale, establishing clear standards and processes, and down-cow care.
“We really encourage farm teams to attend as many haven’t worked together for long,” says Helen.

“The Well-Oiled Team session is designed for teams to get to know each other better, and to learn to be civil while under stress.”

Helen says teams need to feel clear about their manager’s expectations around calving, while planning for any eventuality.

“You can have the best intentions, but the pressure can come on if issues arise, such as staff sickness. Teams shouldn’t shy away from planning for different situations.”

Helen hopes farm teams will be motivated to return to their farms and talk about what they’ve learnt, and how they can apply it on-farm. And that new farmers will be able to demonstrate on-farm what they’ve learned and deliver good practice in their first season.
“You never stop learning, especially when it comes to animal care; industry standards are being raised every year,” says Helen.

To register for a CalvingSmart workshop in your area, visit




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