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Winter Calving Tips

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NonTypicalCPA

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I've got a couple ladies I picked up this year that are due to calve in the coming months. One should be in November and the other in January. Being from Michigan, it can be darn cold this time of year. I'm more concerned with the January birth, but what should I be doing to make sure the calf and mom survive? I have a barn with an east side 8' overhang that is protected from the west, and I am going to add some hay bales or plywood to protect it also from the north. Then I will put down a good bedding of straw in this area. This barn also has two 12x12 stalls that I used when we had horses. I could open one of these up as well for the first day or two, even close the cow and calf in one, but I'm concerned the cow might not like being closed into a space that small and hurt her calf. I've heard of people towel drying the calf soon after birth - is that something I should plan on doing if mom will let me? What else should I be thinking about?
 

farmerjan

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Sounds like you have it mostly covered. Protection from the wind and any snow/ice during calving. I might lock her in if she isn't crazy, right when she is calving. If it is really freezing zero type weather, then drying off the calf will help get it's blood flowing through the extremities faster and get the skin dry so less chance of wind chill. Getting the calf up and on the teat asap is very important. Make sure the cow can get a drink of lukewarm water too, it will help her system.
If they are in this field/area before calving, open the stalls and see. They might surprise you and go in them on their own knowing there is protection from the wind and elements.
 

TCRanch

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Agree with Jan, you're on it! If you put out good bedding/straw the mama will generally cocoon her calf in it to keep it warm and either protect it by blocking all elements and providing additional heat by laying with her back to it or even under her neck/chin. I calve out 1st calf heifers in the barn and quite often they'll automatically come back to seek the shelter with subsequent calves. Good luck!
 
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