Bruce Stevenson Insights – Calving

With another fatal accident to a farmer working with cows and young calves recently in the headlines, it is a timely reminder of the dangers that are faced on farm during the calving season.

Calving is split often into spring and autumn calving, with many farmers opting to have the calves born over the winter months of the year, whilst the cattle are kept indoors.

Cows that are ready to calf or have recently calved can be very unsettled and are very protective of their offspring; as are all livestock. The difference though between a cow and a ewe is approximately 700kg!

New born calves have to be ear-tagged and the details recorded and logged with the Dept within 21 days of birth. To do this, the farmer needs to be up close to the calf and a cow that is normally very docile can become very agitated at this activity. She will use all her strength to remove what she perceives as a threat from her calf.

Farmers themselves are best placed to know what can be done on their own farms to reduce the potential dangers. This may be by investing in specialised handling equipment or by using existing crushes. If calving is outdoors in the field, the recommendation is always to make sure that their vehicle or similar is between the cow and the person for protection. And ideally, to make sure that these jobs are not carried out by only one person. It is always better although not always practicable to have 2 people in attendance during tagging procedure. This would apply equally to indoor and outdoor calving.

Another risk to the farmer is if the Vet has to carry out a Caesarean Section on the cow. This may be required when there is a bad presentation or twins. Again the use of some form of restraint for the cow is essential so that the operation can be carried out quickly, safely and with a positive outcome.

Any comments or questions?  Please contact [email protected] or call her on 07881 093485.