Spring on an Iowa farm is the busiest time of the year. As the weather gets warmer and the ground thaws, new life starts to spring forth from the ground and from the barnyard. After spending a long winter inside the animals prefer the opportunity to be outdoors. For the farmer, it’s not just an open the door and let the animals play. Fields and fences need to be checked out and ready before the animals can lavish the warmer temperatures and for the farmer it will be time to do repairs and cleaning of the places where the animals spent winter months.
Animals provide many types of food and products and help the farmer earn a living. Farmers are responsible for the care of all farm animals. It’s vital to meet the needs of the animals, for without the farmers help, the animals would not thrive. Farmers provide to the basic need of food and water, as well as seeing they stay as healthy and content as possible.
Spring is also a time for many young animals to be born. This requires dedication on the part of the farmer. Pregnant or nursing animals need to be monitored for appropriate health concerns and needs.
Farm babies are called by different names than the parents and some mothers tend to deliver more than just one baby. It is fun to learn what these names are and which animal has which baby. New life is a wonderful thing to witness. From chicken hatching to cow calving to sheep to piglets , the farmer takes care to see that all of these precious babies and their mothers are cared for in the best possible way. Instinctively animals know how to care for their newborn, but the farmer is always close enough to lend a hand if needed. The farmer needs to be sure that there are no after-birth complication and will need to adjust the nutrition for a nursing mother.
Newborn chicks are very delicate tiny bundles of fluff and need to be handled with care. Keeping the chick warm for their first week of life is vital. They need to be at 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Each week of life for the chicks the temperature can be decreased 5 degrees until they reach room temperature. The chicks will also require special little feeders and waterers that are designed just for them. They will need to eat chick starter food which is ground enough for the newborns to handle in their tiny mouths. They will also need grit in their diet to digest the food.
When newborn calves are born their navel is dipped into iodine to help dry up the umbilical cord and prevent infection entering into the calf’s body through the cord. They are fed colostrum from the mother. Shortly after birth the calf is moved to an area where it can receive individualized care in a controlled atmosphere. The first 2 months of care need to be intentional and controlled. The area they are kept in needs to be kept clean and dry and they need to have their own supply of milk, food and water. This controlled environment helps keep the calf from germs and disease.
Care for the newly born lamb will significantly reduce the mortality rate. After the lamb is born the baby and its mother (ewe) are moved to a lambing jug – which is an individual pen. It allows for better bonding of the baby and mother and could also prevent the newborn being abandoned by the mother. The lamb will nurse soon after birth and it’s important to keep the teats clean for the nursing to take place. Lambs need the colostrum that the mother’s milk provides within the first 24 hours of birth. This provides them with adequate antibodies to keep them healthy. The jugs need to be kept clean and dry. After the mother cleans off the baby, it is important that the area is kept warm so that hypothermia does not take place.
Piglets need a controlled environment for birthing and care of newborns. The sow (mother) is moved to a farrowing pen 3-4 days before birthing takes place. Temperature and ventilation is very important. The pen needs to be kept clean and disinfected because the piglets are susceptible to disease. They also need to receive colostrum from their mother’s milk. Piglets run the risk of being crushed when the sow lays down. It is important to monitor the farrowing area closely.
The farmer will make the environment correct for newborn animals. The most important aspect is that a clean, dry area is provided for the births. The farmer also makes sure that all of the newborns are getting proper nutrition and if they are not, the farmer will have to take measures to see proper nutrition is given. It is also very important for the farmer and his family to take precautions to prevent illness for themselves after working with the animals. Spring is busy for a many reasons…but when there is new life on the farm, the farmer has many small reasons to take extra care and precaution for the care of newly born farm animals.
Spring is an awesome time on the farm and is just one more reason that we need to thank farmers for all they do!