Since we are a smaller operation, we are able to monitor all of our cows closely during calving, unlike the operations with hundreds of head. We keep the mothers-to-be in a small maternity pasture and we walk through pasture several times a day, looking for cows that may be having difficulties. After a cow gives birth, we then have to make sure that the new baby nurses. There is a relatively small window for the calf to get its first milk before they lose strength. Most babies do exactly what they're supposed to, but some don't figure it out and then we have to intervene.
Our cows are not tame. The only time they are handled is
I can't blame the cow for freaking out, because if the baby is weak, then we have to haul it into the barn in a wheelbarrow. Cows hate having their babies put in wheelbarrows. Therefore, one of us pushes the wheelbarrow and everyone else keeps the cow from trying to kill the wheelbarrow guy. Thankfully, as long as the cow can put her nose on her baby as it travels, she's generally okay.
Regardless of how the calf gets its first milk, when it's strong enough, we vaccinate it, treat its navel with iodine, give it paste to jump start its gut, and tag it. After that the little guy and its mother go to the nursery pasture with the other cows and calves. I love a pasture full of calves, but all that birthing is nerve-racking.
|It's not unusual for one cow to babysit a lot of calves.|
Meanwhile, the bulls are hanging out in their bachelor pad, just waiting to be put out onto pasture with their ladies so that I can have a lot of stress next spring. We put them out of Father's Day every year, which somehow seems appropriate.
And, just in case you've never seen the pure joy of a bull getting a new bed, here's a video of the boys getting straw.