Pre-calving prep.

The key to having a successful calving season, like many things in life - is preparation.
Double M's heifers are due to start calving January 20, and the young cows are AI'ed for 7 days later.  Since the majority of the groups were bred AI, we expect most of them to start calving a few days before their due date. 

 One thing I've learned since Clint started working with Genex, is that most bulls in AI stud have a low calving ease, and part of that is because of their birth weight and body shape - but a significant part of it is that those bulls also sire calves that don't go a full gestation.  Since a calf grows the most in the last trimester, if it's born 7-10 days early it'll still be fully developed but it should weigh less which makes it easier for the cow or heifer to have the calf. 
One more reason to use AI.  :)

To get ready for calving, Clint has the heifer barn all ready to go, and he's actually already had cows in it with the 2 heifers and 1 cow we had calve super (too) early.  In addition to having the barn clean & prepped, we also need to make sure the cows are ready to go themselves. 
That means that they're on an upward plane of nutrition, are current on their shots and in the right pastures.
The guys have been feeding full feedings of hay for awhile now, and we're trying to keep all of the groups at a good body condition.  (Not too fat, but not too thin.)  After having their calf, a cow will typically drop a half score in body condition so Clint tries to make sure they go into calving a little bit heavier than he'd normally have them.  Once they calve and start milking, their body will need that extra condition to keep up with the additional nutritional needs of the calf. 
Cows that go into calving in a good condition score also will usually calve easier.  Thin cows just don't have the energy needed to go thru the actual calving process, and then their calves are usually weaker and the colostrum isn't as high quality.  It's all kind of a recipe for disaster, so if possible - it's best not to "cheat" a cow in the third trimester and feed them well.  But that means you have to start early, because you can't put condition on a cow that needs it overnight.
The laundry detergent canister is for used needles - it makes a great {Sharps} container!
Another thing the ranch does to prep the cows for calving is give them a round of booster shots, worm them, cut out the fly tags from this summer, trim the hair on their ears around their ear tag so we can read it easily (or replace their tag if it's been lost) and clip off the hair around their freeze brand so that it's easier to read.  The guys will all tell you they're a bit behind in getting this done right now, but I think they got quite a few through the chute this last week. We wrapped up a final group of late calvers on Saturday.



The ranch pregs their cows early in the summer and anything that is short bred 60 days or less gets an ear tag with the number of days pregnant written on it.  Those cows are then separated with their calves, and ran as a group.  If the ranch needs to pare down the number of cows it's running after normal culling, cows from that group will be sold first.  These cows also get worked last, since they're the furthest away from calving. 
You can see the orange ear tags in their right ear with the # of days bred.
We worked the short bred cows on Saturday and also a group of the bulls as well so that they'll be ready to be turned out after we AI later on in the spring.
Since the cows are at the white corral getting worked, it easiest then to move them to the pasture they need to be in for calving.  Clint calves the heifers and young cows, so they'll get moved to pastures on the north side of the freeway near the heifer barn.  Jack calves the older cows on the south side of the freeway, so they'll get moved under the freeway and into pastures near Jack's barn.

The cows follow a feed truck pretty well, and since we're feeding them anyway we just use it to lure them down the road to their new pasture.  :)
So ready or not - calving time is almost here!
And hopefully we're prepared.
How are you doing with pre-calving prep? 
Or have you already started?


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