The 2021 NZDIA Dairy Manager of the Year for the Waikato, Christopher Vila, shares his top tips for calving time.
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Feed: Preparing for calving starts before you dry off. You need to make sure that come calving time you have enough feed. Pasture build up during winter is a must. Thus, monitoring your pasture cover and having a winter and spring rotation plan will help you cover this area.
Farm: After dry-off is the best time to fix everything that need fixing, and to get prepared. These tasks may include mending fences, prepping your calf sheds, cleaning your dairy shed and inspecting your milking plant. Your equipment and machines should also be serviced and maintained, to ensure they’re safe to use. Come calving, you will need to spend most of your time and attention on the welfare and wellbeing of your animals.
Animals: Body Condition Score (BCS) is one of the most important things to consider before calving. Your herd should be in between 5-5.5 in BCS during calving because according to studies, BCS has a direct effect on fertility in the next mating season. Note, it will take 10 days post dry-off before cows start to gain and take at least 30 days for a cow to gain a 0.5 BCS.
Routine: It’s very important to prepare a routine suited to your farm. This helps everyone to work in unison, which will result in better time management, efficient and systematic work during calving.
Mineral: Ensuring that your animals are in good health and have the right amount of minerals entering calving is essential.
Medicine: All the necessary drugs needed (CBG bags, calcium bullets, antibiotics etc.) should be prepared, so if ever there is or are sick cows, you will have something to treat them with immediately.
Me: Preparing yourself and staff is one of the most important things to remember. Everyone must be well rested and recovered from the previous season prior entering calving to make sure that you are fresh. This will help you get through the busiest time of the year.