When it comes to looking after livestock there is never a dull moment. You start the year preparing for lambing season and before it's even over calving season begins! Calving, like lambing, is not going to be an easy time for you, the cow or her calf, which is why it is in every dairy farmer's best interests to have all the essential calving equipment on hand and ready to go.
Shoulder Length Gloves
As a livestock farmer your role throughout calving season is going to be very hands on (or hands 'in', as the case may be). Disposable shoulder length gloves are essential calving accessories, as they provide the wearer with physical protection as well as ensuring cleanliness and hygiene. You should always change gloves when you move from one cow to another.
It is important to clean a newborn calf as soon after birth as possible, and there is nothing better to clean it with than an iodine solution. Diluted to 10%, to ensure the best possible effects this cleaning solution should be applied and left to dry.
Whether it's full of water, iodine solution, your calving tools or whatever, a strong, sturdy bucket is invaluable. You should make sure that you always have at least one bucket full of water so that the birthing mother can easily drink from it.
A newborn calf is not yet developed enough to heat up its own body effectively, which is why it is essential that dairy farmers provide them with an external heat source. A heat lamp is perfect for this, as their shape allows them to raise the ambient temperature and not just the area directly in front of it.
Newborn calves need to be fed shortly after birth or else their chances of survival will quickly dwindle. If for whatever reason a calf's mother is unable to feed her young, it is important that you have back-up reserves of colostrum ready to feed to the newborn.
Calf Feeding Bottles
It is difficult to administer colostrum to a calf without a calf feeding bottle, but luckily there are a lot out there. These bottles, and their teats, are designed to simulate the feeling of feeding directly from an udder, which encourages calves to suckle as they would from their mother.
Calf Feeders & Milk Trains
It is essential that every calf gets the nutrition its body needs to develop into a healthy, mature adult, and a lot of calf feeders are designed to do just that. With interchangeable teats that should be replaced regularly to prevent the spread of disease, some feeders have sectioned off compartments that prevent some calves from drinking more than others.
Depending on how many calves you'll be raising, you will go through a lot of teats. Some will get damaged and other will become dirty, so we suggest that you make sure you have a large stockpile of calf teats.
Dehorners & Dehorning Wire
To ensure the safety of their mothers, and for the collective well-being of the heard in general, some dairy farmers may want to dehorn newborn calves shortly after birth. Ideally dehorning should be done within the first 2 days of life, but it can be done later if you are short on time. Heated dehorners should not be used more than 4 weeks after birth.