Monitoring your herd at calving time is of paramount importance if you’re looking to wipe out calf mortality.
However, this can be difficult when you’ve only got 24 hours in the day and your cows could begin calving at any moment.
However, this one little trick could help it happen at the right time. Feed your calvers at night.
WHAT IT DOES
Feeding cows at night can delay the onset of calving by hacking their body clock.
In the hours before calving, the cow’s rumen has less contractions less often. The pressure in the rumen decreases in the last 2 weeks of gestation, and this declines more rapidly during calving.
However, feeding causes rumen pressure to rise. This tells the cow’s body that it’s not ready to calf just yet, and a night feeding leads to a decline in pressure during the day time.
- It is easier to overcome calving difficulties during daylight – because you won’t be fresh out of your bed, you will be more alert. Additionally, if you need hired help they won’t be coming from their beds either.
- Calves have time to dry off before the sun goes down – during the winter months calves are susceptible to getting chills because they come out of the womb wet. If they calve at night it is risky to let them air-dry, but during the day there is warmer air.
- It is easier to find calving cows in larger areas – If you opt for an outdoor calving then you will be able to find them far easier during the day time.
- Feeding in the evening helps maintain body temperature during cold winter nights
What if my farm is too large?
If you have a large scale operation it might be inviable, even impossible to feed all of your animals after 5pm every day.
In this case, feed your first and second-calving heifers at night, because they are more prone to have calving difficulties. Mature cows can be fed earlier.
This system and a Moocall calving sensor working in tandem can make for a much easier calving season. If something should happen during the night the Moocall would alert you and you would be able to intervene.
Have you tried feeding at night? Did you see any results? Let us know!