July 24, 2019

Interpretive Summary: Benchmarking calving management practices on western Canada cow–calf operations

Interpretive Summary: Benchmarking calving management practices on western Canada cow–calf operations

By: Dr. Emily Taylor

Calving management practices vary highly within the cow-calf sector, depending on the operations region, size, and the facilities available to them.  To optimize performance and maximize profitability, the health and survival of a calf are paramount. Moreover, there is a multitude of factors within an operation that may affect the outcome, such as calving season, herd size, difficult births, and colostrum consumption to name a few. The objectives of the current study were to standardize current calving and colostrum management practices while investigating the relationship between herd demographics and calving, disease, and colostrum management practices.

A total of 97 herds identifying as either commercial or purebred within the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba were utilized during 2017. All producers were given a survey which consisted of 51 questions. Questions pertained to the number of workers, herd demographics, cow-calf inventory, and specific management factors relating to calving and colostrum consumption.

Researchers discovered that most producers followed recommended calving and colostrum management practices; however, record-keeping and herd-level incidences of morbidity and mortality could improve. Earlier calving herds showed a higher prevalence of calving assistance, stillbirth, treatment for a disease, and morbidity. Moreover, these producers used a more intensive calving and colostrum management technique than producers with later calving herds. Negative consequences of the upcoming breeding season for the dam are associated with calving intervention. However, early intervention is correlated to the decrease in the severity of dystocias and prolonged negative consequences for the calf.

Investigators were able to use the survey to describe the calving and colostrum management practices of the herds in Canadian cow-calf operations. It was apparent that the early calving herds had more stringent calving and colostrum management practices. Due to these observations, interventions during calving, disease prevention, and colostrum management were increased.

To view the full article, visit Translational Animal Science.