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Pre-Calving Checklist

There is a lot to get done between calving periods and it is easy to forget important tasks. Use this handy checklist to help you prepare for the calving season ahead.

PRIOR TO DRYING-OFF

  • Plan appropriate vaccination schedule with your ProDairy vet (reason for vaccination, vaccine brand, initial course vs annual booster). Order vaccines.
  • Compile accurate list of due-to-calve and due-to-dry-off dates. Aim to give all cows an 8 week dry period.
  • Review clinical mastitis records, BMCC history and any available mastitis pathogen data (cultures, Dairy Antibiogram, bulk milk PCR) with your ProDairy vet. Discuss drying off strategies including selective vs blanket dry cow therapy and teat sealant, and ensure all staff are trained in the administration of these products.

  • Order dry cow therapy +/- teat sealant and arrange extra assistance at dry-off.

  • Discuss transition cow management with your ProDairy vet or nutritionist and identify any issues from previous records. Review ration, duration of feeding, delivery of feed, feeding groups and fresh cow management.

assisted calvings

Ensure you have the following equipment on hand:

  • Minimum of 2 chains/leg ropes
  • Additional long chain or head snare.
  • Pulley/calving jack
  • Obstetrical lubricant
  • Detergent (soap)
  • Towels
  • Order calf resuscitator and discuss training with a ProDairy vet.
  • Ensure crush is maintained and functioning correctly.

NEW BORN CALF ENVIRONMENT

  • Review the calving environment to ensure there is a contingency plan during wet weather.

  • Calving paddocks: ideally multiple paddocks to allow rotation.

  • Calving pads: remove soiled bedding, clean and disinfect. Address any problem areas. Order new bedding.

  • Clean and disinfect calf trailer. Perform maintenance check and replace any broken or worn fixtures.

NEW BORN CARE

  • Order 7% iodine or 2% chlorhexidine for spraying navels.

  • Order Farm ID tags and NLIS tags.

  • Check ear tag applicator- fix or replace as necessary.Order

  • 1-2 calf coats per 50 calves expected under 3 weeks of age (or more if using on every calf or using sexed semen in heifers).

COLOSTRUM MANAGEMENT

  • Order new colostrum storage equipment (eg Perfect Udder, juice/milk bottles/ zip-lock bags).
  • Order new colostrum feeding equipment (eg Perfect Udder bags/tube feeders/ teat feeders).
  • Order Brix refractometer or recalibrate existing Brix refractometer using distilled water.

  • Order K-Sorb (potassium sorbate colostrum preservative).

  • Review colostrum handling and storage: jugs, stainless steel collection equipment, fridge, deep freezer.

  • Order liquid detergent, household bleach and scrubbing brushes to clean and disinfect feeding equipment.

CALF REARING ENVIRONMENT

  • Remove all used bedding as soon as possible after the previous calving period.
  • Scrub and disinfect partitions, walls and floors.
  • Order new bedding +/- shade mesh +/- scoria.
  • Review ventilation in the shed. Make any changes now before calves enter pens.
  • Review isolation pens and make improvements as necessary.

CALF NUTRITION

  • Replace any worn/scratched feeders.
  • Clean and disinfect existing functional feeders/grain troughs or buckets.
  • Replace all teats

If feeding milk replacer:

  • Order from supplier
  • Organise weigh scales and mixing equipment.
  • Review mix rate and ensure all staff know of any changes.
  • Order calf concentrate: min. 18% crude protein pellets or meal, 33ppm of a coccidiostat (Bovatec or Rumensin).
  • Clean all water troughs/buckets and request a water cleanliness test (MUC-test) from your ProDairy vet.
  • Order fibre: pasture or cereal hay/chaff and store appropriately.
  • Review calf nutrition plan and discuss any changes with your ProDairy vet prior to expected calving.

 

RECORDS

  • Organise notebooks/diaries/spreadsheets/ whiteboards to record all calf details including treatments and losses.
  • Order new whiteboard pens (if using) and stock marker.
  • Store previous records and backup if possible.

    SICK CALF MANAGEMENT

    • Review CalfPro treatment protocols with your ProDairy vet.
    • Book staff training for CalfPro modules or view on-line (ProDairy Partners only).
    • Order personal protective equipment (gloves, aprons, boots).
    • Order NeoLyte electrolytes for calves.
    • Order separate equipment for feeding sick calves (tube and teat feeders).
    • Check digital thermometer and replace if necessary.
    • Order appropriate size needles and syringes (18 gauge, 1 inch needles and 3ml and 5ml syringes).

      Talk to your dairy vet on how to plan and prepare for the upcoming calving season.