As the dairy industry’s busiest period approaches, it’s the ideal time to brush up on calving skills.
“Calving is traditionally a very busy time, and some simple preparation will go a long way to reducing stress levels,” says DairyNZ’s Bay of Plenty regional leader Andrew Reid.
He says the DairyNZ-led workshops aren’t just for those new to calving – there are practical hands-on skills sessions for the less experienced, and for farm owners and managers. And the sessions focus on tools for successfully managing the team through the busy spring period.
The hands-on skills session support attendees to learn the signs of calving, stages of labour, identifying when to assist calving cows, safe handling of newborn calves and transporting calves.
This part of the session is supported with life-size, anatomically-correct models of a cow and calf, which allows participants to see how a calf is presented within the cow, says Andrew.
“The sessions provide a low-stress way to learn proper technique for calving a cow, so that it’s safe for the cow, calf and farmer. It’s good to have a dry-run now, so that you’re not trying to learn in the thick of it.”
Manager and owner sessions focus on team management and tools for improving health and wellbeing, says Andrew.
Simple things like a having a team meeting before calving to establish who is doing what make a real difference, as do eating properly and having a roster so that people are not overworked.
“We also cover off looking for signs of stress and tips for managing this if it arises,” says Andrew.
Good processes are discussed as well, with many practical tips offered – like having a well-stocked calving kit stored near the springer mob – to make calving go smoothly.
Introducing or reminding staff about systems and processes for calf recording, rearing and handling is also important, says Andrew. “Then everyone is on the same page before calving starts.”
The sessions are very practical, and both owners and staff will come away with tools they can use on-farm to make the calving run smoothly, says Andrew.
These sessions are run annually around New Zealand, and are well attended with up to 100 participants at some events, so bookings are essential.
There are three CalvingSmart workshops in the Bay of Plenty in early June: at Whakatane on June 4, at Te Puke on June 5 and at Reporoa on June 6. For dates in other parts of the country, see: www.dairynz.co.nz