Feed Late Afternoon and Calve in Daylight Hours!

This article was first printed nearly eight years ago and it still amazes me how so few farmers either know about this or don’t make it work.  More block calvers seem to do it but it is more applicable to all year round calvers where the time calving on farm is likely to happen any day of the year, any hour of the day!

Some farmers say it is possible to reduce nighttime calvings significantly and it can be a great labour-saving exercise.  Others have tried and say that it doesn’t work.  What do the ones who are successful at this practice do differently?

The key is keeping close to calving or transition cows away from feed completely, from early morning onwards.  All farmers who have tried this, have fed in late afternoon/evening as instructed.  If there is still access to feed (albeit the least palatable or remaining 10%) during the day, some cows will be less hungry in evening time.  These are less likely to fill up if close to calving and more likely to calve on an empty stomach during the night.

If you don’t want to starve cows during daylight hours then give them access to some straw.

The aim is to get cows filling up their rumens late at evening 5-6pm, then they are less likely to start calving until early the following morning.

Several studies have concluded the reduction in nighttime calving by feeding imminent calvers once a day at dusk and restricting access to feed in the daytime.

One British study involving 162 cattle from four different farms compared the percentages of calves born from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. with cows being fed in the morning versus feeding in the evening.  57% of the calves born during the day were from cattle fed at 9:00 am versus 79% born during the day when cows were fed at 10:00 p.m.

No investment required.  Just a change in practice, with a large saving on your time and labour costs.

To discuss further contact Gerard, at gerardfinnan@fcgagric.com or your local FCG office.