For some producers, birthing season may be well underway while others are still preparing for those first calves and lambs to hit the ground. To make sure farmers and farm workers are ready to go when the time comes, consider preparing a birthing kit.
1Pens and equipment
Before birthing season gets into full swing, make sure pens are prepared with clean, dry bedding for new mothers and their babies. Bedding should be changed after every birthing to prevent the spread of disease.
Make sure, if birthing in the colder months, the barn is plenty warm for the newborns and free of drafts. Making sure equipment and pens are ready ahead of time means less stress on you and the animal.
Develop a birthing protocol, or plan, and make sure all employees involved are familiar with it and have access to it. A birthing protocol should include the veterinarian’s contact information right at the top, along with manager/farm owner contact numbers in case of an emergency.
The protocol may list what to look for once an employee notices an animal going into labor, such as warning signs that the animal may be in distress or in need of assistance with the birth. It may also list detailed instructions on what should be done during the various stages of labor and birthing of the animal. Protocols can be posted near the birthing area.
Put together a bag of these supplies or make sure they are close by: Calf/lamb puller, disinfectant, gloves, lubrication (non detergent soap and warm water works best), paper towels, frozen colostrum, milk tuber, electrolytes, syringes, bottles, digital thermometer, and iodine.
For animals born during the coldest days of winter, have heat lamps and blankets available. Other things to have close by are ear tags and taggers, and other markers for identification.
As most farmers know, livestock tend to have impeccable timing when it comes to dropping that first calf or lamb. It could be 5 below or in the dead of night when you need to make a run to the barn.
A house kit, kept close to the door, could include flashlights and batteries, gloves and hats (and other winter gear), towels, a human first aid kit, and other items you always seem to forget once you have made that mad dash out to the barn.
(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)
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