Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Babies! Everywhere!

At XTC Hereford Farms, my favorite time of year comes between March and May. Calving season is when our 150 cows give birth to a new baby calf- sometimes even twins- and begin nursing them as they grow. The rancher's role in calving is to check cows every few hours, including overnight, to ensure all of the calves are being delivered without problems and the momma's are claiming and taking care of their healthy calves.

Ranchers may find themselves having to bring a cow into the barn to pull a calf manually if it is backwards or out of position, or even bringing the cow to the vet's if the calf is too large or other complications arise requiring a cesarean section. Cattle farmers do everything in their power to ensure both the calf and cow are safe and healthy after calving and they undergo a low stress birth.
Cattle producers are in charge of making sure newborn calves are getting colostrum within the first 24 hours of their lives. Colostrum is the milk produced by the cow right after she gives birth, and it's packed full of antibodies and protein to give strength and prevent the calf from getting sick. This is why I make sure the calf is standing up shortly after they're born so they can figure out how to get their mom's milk.

A newborn calf up to suck from momma.

You can see why I love this time of year! On our ranch, we tag the baby calves at birth so we can identify which cow goes with what calf. The big number is the cow's and the little one, 105Y is the baby. The letter signifies the year they were born- 2011 is the "Y" year. When they are older, we replace the tags so their number is the big one and the mother's goes above in smaller print.

Shown here is a calf shelter and straw patch. This area is bedded every day with new straw to make sure the calves have a clean, dry area, especially when they are very young. The shelters block wind, rain, and all the other elements we seem to come across every calving season!

No comments:

Post a Comment