Pipi’s Pasture: Calving season begins

Some area ranchers choose to begin calving in April and May when the weather is warmer and there’s less chance of snow. There’s no guarantee, however. We all remember blizzards, heavy snow, and cold temperatures in the spring. Other ranchers choose to begin calving in February (perhaps even January) before it turns sloppy. Those who choose February calving probably utilize barns where new calves can get a start out of the elements. Whatever the case, calving season, in general, starts now.

We associate the following with calving season…

*Corrals and holding pastures are filled with pregnant cows and cows with newborn calves.

*Lights are on at the barns and corrals all night long.

*Ranchers are loading up on vaccines, medications, syringes, colostrum supplements, and milk replacer (just in case).

*Ranchers start a calving book for 2021 to keep track of calf information, including calf numbers.

*Ranchers order calf tags with numbers or number their own tags.

*Cow checking begins at various times of night and day, more often for first-calf heifers.

*The coffee maker runs about anytime, night or day.

*Ranchers (and other family members) are alert to various signs of soon-to-calve (like that day or night) in cows, such as switching tails, wandering, lying down and getting up, and physical signs.

*”Surprises” are to be expected, such as a calf arriving ahead of schedule and even twins.

*After a calf is born, checks are still made to ensure that the calf has nursed; sometimes the calf needs a little help getting started.

*If it’s a night when heavy snow is falling, a rancher might expect ten calves.

*If there is a holding pasture with vegetation, like sagebrush, it is not uncommon for a cow to hide her newborn, and a person could walk right past the calf without the cow giving any hint that he’s there — some cows are just that sneaky.

*Some sunny days, calves stretch out and go to sleep and dream; you can tell by the way their legs twitch ;are they dreaming that they’re running with other calves?

* Once in awhile, on a night check, a person might find a calf off to itself and no cow seems to claim it; it takes some detective work to figure it out.

*Ranchers are always alert for signs of calf scours.

*Calving season leaves ranch families feeling tired and needing sleep so everyone takes a turn at cow-checking.

*There’s nothing more gratifying than to watch a mother cow with her newborn; it’s even more gratifying if you helped the mother out a little bit and all turned out well.

Best wishes to the ranchers with their calving season and also to the ranchers who will start (or have already started) lambing season!

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