FERMANAGH Grassland Club got a practical demonstration of calving at its January meeting. A model toy calf was “born” in the Lisgoole Suite of the Killyhevlin Hotel as the guest speaker Adam Woods, assisted by Fermanagh veterinary surgeon and suckler farmer Ivan Henderson, explained the various steps in the procedure. It was a novel but interesting first meeting of 2018 for new Club Chairman John Egerton of Rosslea. The meeting took the theme “Calving the cow and care of the calf,” with Adam Woods, beef editor of the IFJ from nearby Ballyconnell, looking at the main points of looking after the cow well before calving. He advised on body score condition as well as mineral supplementation.
Hygiene was an important factor with calving pens meticulously clean and dry and as Adam suggested, “fresh air is as good as disinfectant.” In terms of facilities, a calving gate was considered essential on farms where there are a number of calving cows. A table was laid out with all the items considered necessary in most calving situations. “Preparation is key,” was the message. The key message was to reduce stress for the cow as she was preparing for calving. After a successful delivery, the first thing to do is to ensure the calf is breathing well by clearing the airway in the nose, either with fingers or a straw. Cold water around the ear can provide a little shock to get the calf alert. Colostrum is regarded one of the first necessities for a newborn calf with up to 10 per cent of bodyweight required in the first hour of life. Calf scour was also discussed with the suggestion that there should be separate feeding tubes for healthy calves and for sick calves to avoid passing on infection. The demonstration attracted plenty of queries with farmers enjoying the informative style of the demonstration as well as the light-hearted moments as well.