As calving season is at the early stages, now is the time to do your final checks and ensure you are correctly set up for the coming weeks. Regardless of herd size or facilities, as a farmer, you can expect to experience a lack of sleep due to cows calving. Tiredness can not only affect moods and impair decision making, but it can also decrease productivity. Below are some steps you can take to lower your workload, allow time for rest and reduce stress during calving season.
1. Organise Your Calving Essentials:
Organisation is key, if you haven’t done so already – create a list of calving essentials. Including the calving jack, gloves, ropes, lubricant, naval spray, medical doses & syringes and set up a calving camera if you have one. Consider setting up sheds and facilities in advance. Make tasks easier for yourself by putting essential items all together close to where you will need them.
2. Prepare your Days in Advance:
Where possible, try to plan out a list of daily tasks and make a routine for everyone working on the farm. Make a daily schedule and aim to stick to it. For example, look after the cows and calves in the morning, then move onto cattle. After this additional jobs like fencing, cleaning etc, and then lastly feeding around the yard. Some farmers aim to have all cleaning and bedding done on a Thursday or Friday to allow for a reduced workload during the week. Unfortunately, farmers cannot plan for every occurrence but being organised can help with time management.
3. Feed Cows Later in the Day:
Research from Teagasc shows that night-time feeding can help promote daytime calving. Restricting silage throughout the day and feeding later in the evening can reduce night calving from 25% to 10-15%. This gives the farmer an opportunity to get much needed sleep.
4. Consider Milking Once a Day to Start Off:
When getting back into the parlour after calving, milking once a day for a short-period has its benefits… reduced labour, manageable workload and enhanced cow comfort. This method can also help heifers adapt to the parlour and allows you to spend time on other tasks such as; bedding, cleaning etc.
5. Simplify Your Paperwork:
Paperwork can take up time and if tired, can be difficult to complete without errors. Using the farming app, Herdwatch, can help farmers stay on-top of recording and calf registrations with the department of agriculture. Herdwatch displays the last tag registered and allows farmers to input information without internet connection. Farmers can also submit their breeding information and get notifications and reminders about which cows are due to calve. Plus, you can order your new calf tags through the app. To find out more visit www.herdwatch.ie.
6. Plan Ahead for Cows Returning to Grass:
Get on top of your Grassland Management to maximise grass in the diet once milking again. Getting cows out to grass early after calving can help cut down time spent on feeding and bedding. Set your paddocks up in advance and aim to get cows out full-time or part-time, depending on weather conditions and grass growth. You should also consider grass measuring and soil sampling.
7. Put the feet up when you can…
Once the cows start calving, you will likely have a few nights broken sleep. Make your own health a priority too. Rest when you can, and make sure to ask for help when you need it.
We’re here to help! Contact us for Farm Services, Labour Support and Advice:
Visit: www.frsfarmrelief.ie or Phone: 0818 890 890