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How do I plan for birthing season on the farm?

Newborn calf and mother
By The NCO Team
More from this author

How do I plan for birthing season on the farm?

Even the most experienced of farmers can be caught by surprise when birthing season arrives. We recommend having an emergency birthing kit stocked and accessible for both the expected and unexpected deliveries. We also have a few favorite ways to support your mommas after they give birth. Let’s take a look!

How to Set the Stage

You’ll want to prepare a clean, dry area for birthing on your farm. Depending on which animal is expecting, this could be a kidding/lambing stall, a foaling stall, or a farrowing pen. We recommend offering your momma plenty of room to get comfortable and fluffing the birthing area with fresh hemp bedding.

What to Have on Hand for Delivery

  • Your emergency veterinarian’s phone number. Even if you have done this for years, it never hurts to call-in an expert on some occasions.
  • Emergency medical supplies and necessary medications. You’ll want to prepare your first aid kit appropriately with the help of your veterinarian.
  • Clean towels, puppy pads, paper towels, and/or baby wipes. It’s always good to have your favorite cleaning supplies on hand to dry-up fluids and clean yourself off after the birth.
  • 7-10% tincture iodine. This is necessary both for dipping umbilical cords and for scrubbing your hands and arms before any assistance needed during delivery.
  • Flashlight. You may need to peer into the sac during birth to be sure the baby is presenting correctly.
  • KY Jelly (yeah, we said it). Having a lubricant handy makes assisting a bit easier should you have to turn the baby to a safer position for delivery.
  • Plain dental floss and a sterile knife or scissors. These are helpful for tying-off and trimming or cutting the umbilical cord.
  • Empty and clean film canister. You’ll want one of these, particularly if you’re on a goat or sheep operation because it can be filled with iodine, placed over the umbilical cord against the stomach, and the newborn tipped backwards to fully immerse the umbilical cord in the iodine solution.
  • Syringes. Having a variety of syringes on hand for both mommas and babies is actually quite important. You’ll need small ones if you need to encourage a newborn to suckle, and you need large ones if you need to drench a mother.

How to Support Momma and Baby After Birth

Once delivery is over, you may still need to support both momma and baby. We recommend keeping some feeding tubes, a bottle and nipple, and some molasses on hand. It’s fairly rare to have to tube feed a newborn, but having the supplies available in the event of a rejection can be critical. Molasses actually makes a great pick-me-up for a momma who just went through labor (mix with some warm water), and it can also be offered on a fingertip to a weak newborn who needs its suckle reflex stimulated.

It goes without saying that you will need to provide nutritional support to any animal after it has given birth. That’s where we come in! Offering a momma organic feed that is made with wholesome ingredients, probiotics, and yeasts will help her stay healthy and strong to support the growth of her baby (and that applies both during gestation and after birth). Offering supplements like Thorvin Kelp and free choice salts will help satisfy a momma’s increased vitamin and mineral needs, as well as support her hydration while the baby nurses. Be sure to keep plenty of fresh water available to both momma and baby!

February 17, 2021