Red Deer County News

Posted on: April 13, 2018

Can ALUS Help With Calving?

Calves

By Ken Lewis, Red Deer County ALUS Program Coordinator

Spring is here (at least the calendar says so…) and calving is well under way.

How calving happens on your farm, can be benefited by ALUS.

As a reminder, ALUS (Alternative Land Use Services) pays farmers and ranchers for their management that produces increased ecosystem services.

So, what can you do on your farm, to calve cows and produce ecosystem services? Ultimately, that depends on your farm situation and your goals. But, here’s some ideas:

1. Use ALUS funding to manage wet areas in your calving areas. Wet conditions in calving areas are a major contributor to things like scours. Wetlands (including temporary wetlands where water pools for a few weeks in the spring), can be fenced (even temporarily) to keep livestock out during calving season. You can get ALUS funding to help cover the costs of that fencing, and you can receive annual payments for the acres involved in this kind of management change.

2. Use ALUS funding to provide clean water to cows and calves. We all know that providing clean water in a trough on high ground, results in much better weight gain in cattle, reduced footrot and other diseases, etc. Of course, this can benefit nursing calves too, as the chance of udders being fouled by mud, manure, etc. is greatly reduced. You can get ALUS funding to help cover the costs of providing water in a trough on high ground, and you can receive annual payments for the acres involved in this kind of management change.

3. Use ALUS funding to provide shelter for cows and calves. If cows and their calves are sheltering in the willows around wetlands, the trees along creeks, etc., they are potentially spending more time in wet conditions, risking greater exposure to predators, and accessing areas fouled by accumulated manure (which can also be a major contributor to things like scours). You can get ALUS funding to help cover the costs of providing alternative shelter like windbreaks. These can be moved around on higher ground, away from wet areas, predator-friendly woodlands, accumulated manure, and so on. And, you can receive annual payments for the acres involved in this kind of management change.

4. Use ALUS funding to make checking cows / checking calves easier. When the cows are going to a trough on high ground, or sheltering at the portable windbreaks you’ve provided, or drinking from the water trough…you can quickly see how checking on them can be easier. I’ve even heard of people installing remote cameras on ALUS supported water systems or portable windbreaks, so cows can at least be partially checked from the comfort of your living room.

That’s just a few ideas. You’ve probably got many more. By the time you read this, these ideas might be too late for this year’s calving season. But, this also makes it the perfect time to start thinking about how ALUS can help you with next year’s calving.

Please give me a call anytime, and let’s talk about it (403.505.9038 or email klewis@rdcounty.ca). Or, call one of our ALUS Farmer Liaisons: Stephen Smith at 403.318.3371 or Tom Towers at 403.352.6901).

Keep in mind, you can get up to 85% of costs covered by the ALUS Program, and you can get $30 per acre involved, per year.

Additional Info...
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