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BCRC offers tips for reducing stress during calving season

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

For many cattle producers, calving season is underway, which means an abundance of sleepless nights as calves hit the ground around the clock. This tiring and stressful season is a great time to discuss mental health.

Proper planning supports healthy calves, but it also benefits producers – both physically and mentally – when dealing with the stresses of the calving season.  

On Feb. 6, the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) hosted a podcast featuring Cynthia Beck, a provisionally-registered psychologist and cattle rancher in Saskatchewan and volunteer director for Sask Ag Matters Mental Health Network. 

Beck notes taking the time to prepare for the busy season is well worth it.

“Many producers, myself included, run into a tough time at calving, and I think most of us attribute the difficulty to stress and exhaustion. Yet not many producers know there are things we can do to proactively help ourselves get through calving while maintaining both our physical and our mental health,” she explains.  

During the podcast, Beck describes how her and her husband manage a 400-head cow herd in southern Saskatchewan. 

“Taking time to be prepared can decrease a lot of the stress and workload during this busy season,” she says. 

Livestock production is seasonal, and with each season, a specific part of the operation’s production system is completed, bringing new challenges and stressors for producers.


Self-maintenance may not be at the forefront of many producers’ minds as they prepare for and navigate their way through calving season. 

However, Beck reminds producers they are the number one asset on the operation, and without them, the machinery doesn’t run and the cows don’t feed themselves.  

Beck’s top three self-maintenance tips for producers to protect their physical, emotional and mental well-being during calving season include staying hydrated, consuming nutritious food and getting an adequate amount of sleep. 

“These basic self-maintenance actions will help producers with so many different things during the stress of calving,” says Beck. “When individuals are properly hydrated, they will automatically have clearer thinking, better emotional regulation and improved decision-making skills.”

The same can be said for sleep, as a lack of sleep is linked to increased risk-taking behaviors and lower safety behaviors, along with reduced productivity, Beck notes.  

Meal planning is another helpful method to reduce stress and anxiety. 

“When people feel overwhelmed, the ability to make healthy choices can be compromised, and this becomes even more important when producers run an operation by themselves,” says Beck. 

“In this situation, not only are they responsible for feeding the herd, doing herd health, herd maintenance and calving, but they are also responsible for feeding themselves,” she adds.

She suggests producers take time to purchase food or prepare balanced meals in advance that are ready to eat during calving season.  

Being proactive

Being proactive is key, however, Beck says it is important to realize one can’t plan for everything.

She points out communication is another key aspect of elevating producers’ well-being, particularly if they are working with others. 

She says, “It is important to remember there are other people who can help. Being able to speak up and explain areas where you are struggling and need a hand brings benefits for multiple areas of a cattle operation.” 

When things do not go as planned, this can create another level of stress for producers, so making the appropriate preparations ahead of time can help minimize calf losses and reduce the stresses for those involved during this busy season.  

Sometimes help isn’t just needed for the herd, so when the stress of calving season becomes overwhelming, Beck suggests reaching out to the community or local professionals for mental health support.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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