We start calving at the beginning of April, and so we pray that the weather is kind and we can turn the cows out into the fields so that they can calve in the fields. Generally speaking the breeds that we have chosen do not require assistance during calving, and more often than not the calves are born and are up and suckling in a matter of minutes. With the cows outside we look them every hour or so to check who is calving, and to see if any of them need some help.
Once a calf is born we treat their naval with iodine to prevent this being a route of infection. We then watch carefully to ensure that the calf has had a drink of its mother’s colostrum, which is hugely important for the calf’s immunity and future health. This year we had one calf that just didn’t get the hang of it, and so we brought him and his mum inside where we could milk some colostrum from her for his first feed, and then guide him onto her teat for a proper suckle.
After 24hours we tag the calves with their unique identification, and move them and their mother onto better grazing so that she can continue to produce plenty of milk.
We do not feed the cows and calves on anything other than grass until November.