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Spring Calving Season Approaching by malj

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									Spring Calving Season Approaching
Greg Highfill, OCES Area Extension Livestock Specialist

Thus far, this has been a harsh winter for cattlemen. Snow cover has greatly increased
the amount of hay fed, tightened hay supplies and increased price. Supplement cost
increased significantly the last few months. Many cattle have been lost to drowning in
frozen farm ponds during these storms. The market did sell $80 fed cattle last week.
Good calf prices are definitely the light at the end of the tunnel.

Calving Season Approaches. Over 75 percent of death loss in calves occur at birth or in
the first two weeks. Good calving management can increase the number of calves you
wean next year.

Adequate Cow Nutrition. Survival of the neonatal calf is 20% higher in cowherds fed to
meet their nutritional requirements during the last 60 days of gestation. Thin cows are
weak during labor and have non-vigorous calves.

Nighttime Feeding. During calving season it would be beneficial for cows to calve in the
daytime. Begin nighttime feeding (5pm or later) when calving starts and over 70 percent
of the cows should calve in the daylight hours (6am to 6pm). Their not sure why, but it
works.

Prepare for Calving. Provide a clean calving area. Have obstetrical sleeves, antiseptic
lubricant and obstetrical chains and handles available.

Labor. Calving is divided into three stages. 1. Uneasiness, seeking quite place. 2.
Complete dilation of cervix, serious straining, delivery of calf. 3. Delivery of placenta.
Stage 2 is normally 60-90 minutes for heifers and 30-60 minutes for cows. When should
cattlemen help? Rule of thumb, if reasonable progress stops after the feet or water bag
appear, assistance may be indicated. Examination for malpresentation is not detrimental
if done in a quite, sanitary manner. If you can not safely deliver the calf yourself, it is
time to call the veterinarian.

Colostrum. Newborn calves have little immune function. Passive immunization is the
transfer of maternal antibodies to calves through colostrum (first milk). These antibodies
protect the calf from infection like scours and pneumonia. Nursing normally begins
within 1 hour after birth. Maximum absorption of antibodies occurs between 2-6 hours
of age and ends after 24 hours. Early nursing is vital. A lot of new data is demonstrating
the long-term health status of beef cattle is related to proper colostrum intake.

Your local OSU Extension office has Circular E-906 - Calving Management and videos
VT-323 on parturition and VT-324 on dystocia.
Bulls vs. Steers. An OSU Extension survey of Oklahoma sale barns showed that 1 of
every 4 sale lots of male cattle were bull calves. The data showed that bulls receive
$2.25 to $3.50 less per cwt. than steers. Cattlemen selling bull calves can increase calf
value from $9.00 to $15.00 per head.

OSU Animal Science Researchers recently studied the influence of method of castration
on performance before and after weaning.

At 2 to 3 months of age, one third of bulls were banded, one third were surgically
castrated, and one third were left intact. The steers were implanted. Weight change from
treatment to weaning was similar for all groups. Results suggest that in suckling calves
implanted with an estrogenic growth stimulant, intact bulls had no advantage in weaning
weight compared to banded or surgically castrated males.

Following weaning the intact bulls were banded and all groups were re-implanted. Fifty
days later, bulls banded at weaning tended to gain less weight than males that were
banded or surgically castrated at 2 months of age.

The OSU researchers conclude that castrating bulls at weaning may decrease post-
weaning performance. Bulls should be castrated as early as possible before weaning to
decrease stress, eliminate negative effects on post-weaning growth rate, and increase
value at sale time.

								
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