Pre-delivery area -
This area should allow for easy monitoring of the close-up cows/heifers
and provide some protection from the elements. Providing shade during
the dry period not only improves milk yield, but will also decrease
fetal stress. It has been found that increased heat stress in the
cow will increase stress in the fetus and may lead to early calving.
It is also important to protect her from severe weather and wind.
Delivery area -
The design of the facilities should:
- Allow easy entry of the animals and minimize
the stress of handling and restraint during assistance.
- Separate areas for delivery and post-delivery
care are recommended. This allows you to remove the calf and the
dam from the calving area quickly in order to minimize exposure
to disease producing organisms as well as prepare the area for
another dam in need of assistance.
- For the calf, dam, and the people assisting the
delivery, protection from the elements is desired. Being dry and
warm goes a long way in encouraging the use of proper techniques
in calving management. It has also been shown that calves that
experience calving difficulty recover faster if they are in a
warm, dry environment.
- The delivery area should have a straight-sided
head catch that will allow the dam to lie down and still breathe
comfortably. The head catch should be in an area of the calving
pen that leaves sufficient room for the dam to lie down and for
the assistants to move freely around her or to get a fetal extractor
in position. If you do not have a calving pen set up already you
can attach hinged gates on either side of the straight-sided head
catch in a pen or at the end of an alley. Handling dystocias in
a squeeze chute should be avoided since the dam cannot lie down
and there may not be sufficient room for assistance.
- The delivery area should be easy to disinfect.
You may want to consider having cement flooring in the delivery
area for easy cleaning, however, keep in mind that this may lead
to cow injuries if she has to lie on the hard surface for long
periods of time. The flooring should be rough enough to provide
good footing for the cows to help prevent trauma from the cows
attempting to get up. This area should also have water available,
preferably both hot and cold.
Post-delivery area -
The post-delivery area should protected to keep the calf warm and
dry. Removal of the calf from the dam as soon as possible will decrease
the calf's exposure to disease causing organisms from the dam.
This area also needs to be easy to clean. If you have dirt floors
in this area you can use lyme as a disinfectant.