Calving school offers profitable education for beef producers

The Marais des Cygnes Extension District, Frontier Extension District, Johnson County and Douglas County Extension will be hosting a calving school Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. The program will be held at Celebration Hall, 220 W. 17th St., Ottawa, Kan. (at the Franklin County Fairgrounds.) The meeting will kick off with a sponsored meal at 6 p.m. (RSVP) followed by presentations starting at 6:30 p.m. There is no cost to attend but interested persons are asked to RSVP for the meal by contacting the Marais des Cygnes District Paola office at 913-294-4306 or [email protected].

In anticipation of calving season, K-State’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, and K-State Research and Extension faculty and staff are planning a series of events to help boost producers’ chances of a successful calving season.

The program will outline overall calving management that includes stages of the normal calving process and tips to handle difficult calving situations. K-State Research and Extension beef veterinarian A.J. Tarpoff said the event will increase knowledge, practical skills and the number of live calves born.  Tarpoff will demonstrate proper use of calving equipment on a life-size cow and calf model.

“Our goal is for producers to leave better prepared for calving season,” Tarpoff said. “We will discuss timelines on when to examine cows for calving problems, and when to call your vet for help if things are not going well. It’s an excellent program regardless of experience level.”

Topics to be discussed include normal calving process, when to intervene, how to manage a difficult birth, developing a system for lifetime, health and performance of the calf, proper vaccine storage and handling.

A main topic to be covered will be dystocia, or calving difficulty, which is the result of the difference between calf size at birth and the dam’s birth canal. These two factors, birth weight and pelvic area, along with cow age, calf sex, gestation length, pre-calving nutrition and cow body condition, season, calf presentation, and maternal effects contribute to differences in calving difficulty. Of these factors, research has clearly demonstrated that calf birth weight is the primary factor. As calf birth weight increases, the percentage of cows requiring calving assistance also increases.

Genetic selection is the primary tool for effective management of birth weight and calving difficulty. Birth weight is a highly heritable trait, and responds to selection pressure. Tools such as EPD’s for birth and calving ease should be used in sire selection, especially, when breeding first calf heifers.

Information thanks to Frontier Extension District.

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