GFM Network News

Heather Eppich and son Joseph check on one of the spring calves.

Is it spring yet?

Cold and wind creates challenges during March-to-May calving season

You never know what the weather is going to do. Gregory and I had decided that from mid-March to the beginning of May would be the best time for calving season. We didn’t want to calve during the coldest part of the winter with the green grass months away, but we also didn’t want to […] Read more

Cold weather or not, fencing continued

Rancher's Diary: Extra attention including tube feeding couldn’t save premature calf

February 22 A week ago it snowed and was windy and cold. Jim finished packing his truck and drove to California where he has a couple of months worth of work fixing fences and remodelling some buildings for a friend. We moved the yearling bulls from the orchard to the little back pen, and created […] Read more

Proper diets take a bite out of wind chill

When temperatures dip, it’s time to torque up the ration

Beef cow diets developed at the beginning of winter when temperatures were mild are not adequate to meet their energy requirements when new year’s winds blow. That’s because pregnant beef cows need extra calories in order to keep warm, rather than burning up fat reserves needed for the upcoming calving season. Therefore, if it is […] Read more

Veterinariam Cody Creelman, right, gets some assistance as he prepares to pull a calf. There are several things to consider before either pulling by hand or with the help of a jack.

Important tips for pulling a calf

Have chains properly positioned; be gentle with the calf puller

Some calves are injured at birth by improper pulling methods, says Cody Creelman, a veterinarian with Veterinary Agri-Health Services (VAHS) in Airdrie, Alta. Most ranchers know when preparing to pull they should use a double half-hitch when placing chains on the calf’s legs. The correct setup should also include one loop mid-cannon and the other […] Read more

Calving problems have been greatly reduced on modern cow-calf operations, but a producer still needs to be ready for every situation.

Be prepared to resuscitate calves

Animal Health: Depending on the birthing difficulty, time may be running out to get a calf breathing

There have been many ways discussed among both dairy and beef producers regarding the best way to stimulate a weak calf that doesn’t want to breathe. With calving season just around the corner, certainly for many purebred producers, this is a good time to share techniques and get the calving area supplied. My experience has […] Read more

Once she calves, this cow's dietary needs will change.

Old school nutrition works after calving

It doesn't have to cost a lot to maintain proper body condition

Already, I know a few producers have had a couple of sleepless nights checking cows at calving. Most have told me all has gone well, because their cows came through the winter in good shape and were well-prepared for this year’s calving season. Moving forward, they now feed their calved-out beef cows diets which contain […] Read more

Gruesome, but sometimes necessary

Animal Health: When there’s no other options, a dead calf needs to dismembered for removal

Fetotomy is a veterinarian’s fancy word for cutting up a dead calf within the cow during the birthing. While it sounds gruesome the process still has a valuable place in a competent veterinarian’s bag of tricks. The object is to reduce trauma or minimize damage to the cow. The calf at this point is a […] Read more

This headlock works well for treating animals, or for holding a cow that 
may need calving assistance. There is no fixed gate at the back and the side panels swing open allowing full access to all parts of the animal if a C-section is required. The cow can lie down if she chooses.

Preparedness checklist for calving season

Animal Health: Start with clean facilities and equipment and have all supplies in stock

As with any work area on the farm, having the proper equipment, keeping it maintained, disinfected and the area properly stocked with pharmaceuticals, will help insure a successful calving season. The one critical and often-forgotten component is biosecurity. With many cows and their mothers moving through the calving area at a stressful time it is […] Read more

In dealing with a breech birth, this photo shows the proper position of the calf puller, and chains properly attached to the calf’s legs.

Be patient, smart using a calf puller

Animal Health with Roy Lewis: It is a useful tool when needed, but it can also be misused

Although calf pullers are not used today nearly as much as past years they still have an important place in the calving barn if used properly. To me every cow-calf producer and some feedlot owners need one type of puller, especially if they are often alone when calving. By using common guidelines when pulling, a […] Read more

If normal progress in labour has stopped, it is time to glove up and make an internal exam.

When to act, when to call for help during calving

There are no hard and fast rules — watch and be prepared to act

Most cows and heifers progress normally through the stages of labour; uterine contractions in early labour get the calf aimed toward the birth canal, the cervix dilates and the calf starts through. The calf entering the birth canal stimulates abdominal straining and second stage (active) labour begins — to push the calf out. Sometimes, however, […] Read more