Article Summary: Heifer health is crucial for your calf-producing herd, as they are a significant agricultural investment. To ensure their well-being, the calving and post-calving stages are crucial. You must focus on the heifers’ pre-calving nutrition, health management, and comfortable housing during the pre-calving and pregnancy stages. During calving, be ready to assist when needed and maintain a clean living environment. After calving, get set to care for calves and monitor your heifers' recovery. Modern technology through pasture management apps contributes to your success in this process with visibility and monitoring even when you’re not nearby.

Calving and the post-calving stage are critical periods in the life of a heifer. As a dairy farmer, your responsibilities increase during this time. According to an estimate, a heifer costs around $1300-$1500 to a farm owner by the time they calve. It is, therefore, crucial to keep them healthy for a better return on investment.  

The cow transitions from a pregnant animal to a lactating cow during calving. This transition can be stressful for her body, and it is important to take steps to keep her healthy.

Healthy heifers ensure the next generation of your herd and contribute to its overall productivity. This blog post discusses the tips and tricks to keep heifers healthy during the calving and post-calving stages. 

Pre-calving: Setting the stage for healthy heifers

Proper cow care at the pre-calving stage leads to a smooth transition to the calving period. It minimises calf loss and difficulties during calf loss. 

Ensure proper nutrition

Before calving, monitoring the nutritional status of heifers is crucial. Adequate nutrition ensures the health of both the heifer and her calf. Key considerations include:

  • Providing a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients.

  • Monitoring body condition score every two weeks and adjusting feed accordingly.

  • Avoiding overfeeding and underfeeding during the last trimester to avoid health complications.  

  • Consider supplementary feeding to cows if needed. 

Health management

Ensuring the health of heifers before calving is essential to minimise complications during and after calving. You need to undertake the following steps:

  • Implementing a vaccination program.

  • Regularly deworming heifers.

  • Monitoring their weight and growth at the end of each trimester. 

  • Identifying and treating any pre-existing health issues.

Comfortable housing

Preparing comfortable and safe housing for heifers before calving is vital. This ensures that they get viable living conditions for the healthy growth and development of heifers. Providing comfortable accommodation involves:

  • Providing dry bedding and shelter.

  • Ensuring adequate space for heifers to move around.

  • Minimising stress factors in the environment.

During calving: Assisting and observing

Heifers need extensive care and observation during the calving stage. However, you must understand that they need care without much bothering. You must assist and observe cows without disturbing the heifers. 

Assistance during calving

During the calving process, being present and ready to help is crucial. Here is what you need to do:

  • Monitoring heifers closely twice daily for signs of labour.

  • Providing assistance if needed, especially for first-time heifers or in case of early labour.

  • Examining the heifers in case of delayed labour. 

  • Ensuring a clean and hygienic calving environment.

Sometimes, you may need to call a vet to assist a heifer having difficulty at giving birth. 

Post-calving: Ensuring heifer and calf health

Whether the heifer gives birth normally or with complications, they need good care for a speedy recovery. You must look after the calves well in the first hours and days to ensure their healthy growth. Additionally, keeping the calf and the heifer separate from the herd initially for necessary observation and care is best. 

Caring for newborn calves

Immediately after calving, proper care of the newborn calf is essential. This helps to resolve any health issues arising among the calves. Caring for the newborn calves involves:

  • Providing a warm and dry environment to the mother and the calf.

  • Ensuring that the cow has accepted the calf and allows it to suck.

  • Ensuring that the calf receives adequate colostrum for immunity.

  • Monitoring the calf for any health issues.

Monitoring heifer recovery

Post-calving, heifers require special care to ensure a smooth recovery. The following are the crucial steps to take for effectively managing the recovery of your heifers:

  • Feed your cows well after calving to support milk production and fertility.

  • Take measures for worm control.

  • Keep a close eye on the fertility of the cows.

How a pasture management app can help keep your heifer healthy

When it comes to cattle farming, modern technology brings invaluable tools to the table. A solid, expert-backed pasture management app is a game-changer for enhancing herd well-being and overall farm management. Along with the ability to monitor your herds, it may also offer virtual fencing, effectively controlling cattle movement within pastures. 

Benefits of virtual fencing

Virtual fencing yields substantial advantages for heifer health and comprehensive herd management:

  • Facilitates efficient rotational grazing.

  • Enhances soil and pasture quality.

  • Reduces the risk of cattle escaping.

  • Lowers labour and maintenance costs.

  • Prevents overgrazing and pasture degradation.

  • Reduces the risk of injury from physical fences.

Incorporating modern tools and practices in dairy farming helps with the optimal utilisation of resources while improving your farm’s productivity.  By following this guide and utilising innovative tools, you can keep your heifers healthy and build a strong foundation for your cattle farming success.

Maintaining the health of heifers during calving and in the post-calving stage is vital for the success of your cattle operation. 

As we have explored, proper pre-calving nutrition, health management, and comfortable housing set the stage for healthy heifers. During calving, vigilant observation and being ready to offer assistance are crucial. Post-calving, caring for both the heifer and her calf is essential to ensure a smooth recovery. 

And don’t forget to add technology into the mix. This way, you can automate, assess and review everything in real-time and remotely, meaning a higher success rate and more time for your other farm tasks!

The great news is that can help! From satellite surveillance, machine learning capabilities, task management and real-time data, you can make smarter farming decisions from your phone, wherever you are!

Want to know more? Get in touch with our team in that chat box today!

Until we meet again, Happy Calving!

- The Dedicated Team of, 2023-09-28