SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (KTIV) -- Calving is a part of nature, but with all of the moisture, Mother Nature has producers keeping a closer eye on their calves.
Spring means new life on the farm.
Garold Den Herder's beef herd started calving March 15th. And by mid-April, he'll have more than 140 calves on his yards near Sioux Center, Iowa. But this calving season has been more challenging than others.
"Well, because of the moisture situation and the mud situation it was a challenge," Den Herder said.
If there's too much mud, a calf can't easily get up and get to its mother to feed. Den Herder says he hasn't faced much of that problem because most of his yards are concrete. Veterinarian Al Van Engen says there's another reason to keep calves dry: their overall health.
"A real key when you are calving beef cows is to have the calf born in a dry place where the utter on the cow is clean so when it sucks its first colostrum it's clean colostrum," Van Engen said.
Colostrum is the first milk the mother gives it's calf and contains almost all of the immune boosters that calf will need before it's own immune system kicks in.
Nursing is vital, because a calf can lose its sucking instinct within a few hours of being born. So when a cow looks like she's ready to deliver, Den Herder tries to move the cow inside.
"This facility we are in, we'll bring them in here in cover. And after they bond with their mother then they'll go outside," Den Herder said.
And if farmers run into problems during the calving process, vets like Van Engen are on call 24/7.
"In the evenings, after hours we'll see the obstetrical procedure, assisting a delivery that the owner, producer can not get himself."
A beef cow, with proper nutrition and good shelter, can have 7 to 9 calves in her life span.