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Getting ready for the calving season

Getting ready for the calving season

Shane Devaney, Beef Advisor, discusses the importance of preparation for the calving season, emphasising organisation, proper equipment maintenance, calving pen readiness, the significance of colostrum for newborn calves, and the need for safety around calving cows to prevent accidents.

While some people might be well into their calving season there are other people just starting to calve now? I will go through a few pointers that people can take on board around this time of year.


The first thing to do is make sure your well organised in advance. Check that your calving jack is working properly and that the ropes for the jack are in good condition. Have all of the necessary equipment such as calving gloves, stomach tube, iodine, lubricant, wash basin, towel and access to hot water if required.

Calving pens

Make sure that the calving pens are washed out in advance with disinfectant or lime. Have the pens well bedded. Research has shown that where pens are well bedded with clean straw there is a reduction in naval infections. Have good calving facilities such as a calving gate and easy access for cow from the shed into the calving area. There are also devices such as calving cameras and calving sensors which means you can watch or know when the cow is calving, which allows you to let the cow calve by herself. If the cow is having difficulty calving and you think you need extra help then ring the vet. There is no point taking chances when you could end up with a dead calf and sometimes a dead cow. There is too much money at stake to take these chances.


Have a good supply of colostrum in the fridge as some cows don’t have a lot milk after calving. Remember that it is recommended that the calf gets at least 2 litres of colostrum within 4 hours after been born so the calf can build up a healthy immunity.

Stay safe

Finally remember to be as safe as you can, as this is always a dangerous time for farmers and don’t take any risks around cows as you never know when a cow might attack you. It is very important to be able to have an area in the calving pen where you can isolate from the cow. There to many stories out there were people have had close shaves with cows at calving and some of these have ended in serious injury and sometimes death.

Teagasc provides a Local Advisory and Education service to farmers. Find your local Teagasc office here