One of my absolute favorite times of the year is calving season. On my family’s ranch it is calving season right now. Just about every time you go check cattle there will be a new calf stumbling around.
Although it is such a fun time of year with all the new little ones around the ranch, it also comes with a lot of work. Cows have to be checked more often to make sure none of them are having any calving difficulty referred to as dystocia. On occasion we might end up with a bottle calf or two. Most of the time a mature cow will have her calf and the new pair will go on their way just fine without any help from their owner. With first calf heifers it sometimes doesn’t always work that smoothly. Since it is their first time to calve, a lot of factors come into play; such as what type of bull they were bred to, the shape the heifer is in, and the weather. Many nights I remember going out to the barn or the pasture to check on a heifer calving. If the heifer takes too long to calve or is experiencing problems, we get her to the pins and pull the calf or access what we need to do to help her. Another problem for new heifers is properly taking care of that new calf. Sometimes they don’t seem to understand their role as “mom” now. If the new calf doesn’t get up and nurse fairly quickly, they will not get the proper nutrients from the colostrum and their body cannot fight off sickness. So, if we notice the heifer not “taking to” the baby, we get colostrum down the baby with a bottle. We try to pair up the new mom and calf. If she never takes the calf, we will put the calf on bottle and the cow will mostly be a cull. It is a time consuming job when heifers are calving, but well worth the extra effort. With a heifer you retain out of your own herd, you know her genetics and can plan for the type of cow she should make. After years of keeping cows and heifers and a good culling program, a rancher has chosen the very best traits to keep in his cattle. So, I always enjoy seeing hard work pay off. That’s why this time of year is not only fun but also very rewarding. There is absolutely nothing like a new mom cleaning up a new calf and watching it stand and nurse for the first time!
It our neck of the woods, two other factors come into play predators and the weather. Coyotes are our main predators; we run donkeys with our cows to help chase off these critters. Also, when it gets extremely cold, it makes it difficult for a new calf to survive. So, we pay close attention to weather patterns and try to get the animals into a safe area if a storm is coming this time of year.
So, as you can tell it is not only a fun time of year but a busy time as well. But, I wouldn’t change a thing about it!
Beef & Blessings,