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Are you ready for fall calving?

September is here and before we know it, we’ll be in the midst of fall harvest and calving. It happens every year like clockwork and you’ve been doing it for so long it you could probably do it with your eyes closed – which means you also know exactly what you’re going to forget to grab from the barn when you rush out to the pasture for an emergency. Being prepared is half the battle, mother nature will take care of the rest, but if being prepared is the part you can control why not get on top of it ahead of time?

I recently read an article from Oklahoma State University that talked about being prepared with a calving kit as well as an emergency plan, something every farm should have regardless of the time of year.  We talk about this concept with 4-Hers each year, as livestock exhibitors have to complete a course called YQCA (Youth for the Quality Care of Animals) and one of the sections we cover is what should be included in an emergency plan. We learn these things when we’re young, but often forget to write things down as we get into the routine of everyday life. Reading about it in the OSU article encouraged me to write this column as a reminder to all of you.

An emergency plan for your farm can look however you want (a laminated index card, a poster, note on a dry erase board, etc.) but it should contain the most important details that you carry around in your head for the whole staff and family to see and be posted somewhere easy to find. Details of your emergency plan should include: 1) Phone numbers for family and staff, the vet and of course 9-1-1. 2) Street address of the farm. 3) Map of Pen/Stall/Pasture Locations with names (west pasture, Lot 1, etc). 4) Location of the calving records, vaccination records, birthdates, etc for livestock. Preparing the plan before you need it is the point of the plan, so don’t try and say “oh I don’t need that right now”.

A calving kit could prove to be something worth your time, especially for those late night, last minute, completely inconvenient calvers in your pasture. Keep the calving kit by the door, in your UTV, your truck or another easily accessible place. The OSU article outlined a few essentials for your calving kit including: 1) disposable sleeves 2) antiseptic 3) chains 4) antibiotics 5) iodine solution 6) two obstetrical handles 7) old towels and a roll of paper towels 8) gallon jug of water 9) non-detergent soap 10) a good flashlight with extra batteries. When it comes to calving, having what you need with you at the right time could be the difference between losing a calf or saving it in the time it takes you to run back up to the barn to get that one thing you need. Good luck to everyone this fall, stay safe and healthy!

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