Spring calf

Spring calving offers the advantage of plenty of new feed for cows during peak nutritional requirements, but fall calving often brings better weather.

The recent weather events have been nothing short of horrific.

The latest blizzard has been tough on everyone. From calves suffocating or getting buried in the snow, to pneumonia, to the mud – these last two weeks have made many of us question why we do what we do.

We have all experienced greater death loss this year as compared to an average year. You have to keep your head up. The live calves left need you. They need you to give them the best chance moving forward.

So, what can we do moving forward?

– Be ready to treat sick calves.

Use antibiotics and anti-inflammatories as necessary to help these babies out. Watch them closely, as a lot of times we are catching them too late.

– Be ready for scouring calves.

We had to have them in tight to make it through the blizzard. Now they are in mud. Wet, confined conditions create an environment where scours agents thrive.

Keeping older calves in with younger calves helps perpetuate the scours cycle. Be ready to drench them with electrolytes and treat with appropriate meds to help them survive.

– Provide them with dry places to lay.

I realize everything is wet. Literally everywhere. We may have to do some things differently than we have in years past to get them on dry ground.

We may have to turn them out a little sooner onto pasture. Be open to the possibility of what you can do differently to save more calves.

– Don’t forget about the cows.

One of the biggest things we need to be concerned about with our cows is their udder. The cows need dry ground just about as much as the calves. Dirty bags result in calves that refuse to suck and mastitis issues.

– Be thinking about the lush growth this will create and the potential for Grass tetany.

When we have grazed these pastures off hard the past few years, and get significant moisture in the spring, we have good opportunity for lush new growth, which can have low magnesium and result in grass tetany issues.

Talk to your nutritionist to make sure you are feeding the right mineral at the right time to prevent this.

The stress of the weather on these calves was a complete shock to their immune system, and we are dealing with the effects of it currently. Some calves are bouncing back from the storm extremely well, while others are not going to make it no matter what we do.

It is an exhausting and depressing environment to work in. The grass and sunshine will help them and us move forward.

Hang in there, better days are coming. Here’s to wishing you green pastures with belly-deep grass!

Dr. April Schilder is a partner with Prairie View Veterinary Clinic in Miller, S.D.

Questions? Send email to Eric Knock, DVM, at reknock@venturecomm.net or send mail to 321 E. 14th St., Miller, SD 57362. Eric Knock owns and operates Prairie View Vet Clinic in Miller, Redfield, Wessington Springs and Highmore, S.D.