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Chewing The Cud - March 10, 2023

It is evident that calving season is here. How can I tell? Well, first off, the weather cannot make up its mind if it wants to be spring-like or winter; second, every time you drive down the road, you see little dots snuggled up in the hay piles out in the pasture, and lastly, my husband is extra cranky for what seems like no good reason. Maybe in the back of my mind, I am in denial, but we all know the grumpier a rancher gets, the more calves he has on the ground. Growing up calving heifers, I knew this statement to be true. It seemed like my emotions had a direct relation with how the heifers decided to act that day. I am sure most of you can relate. You have those days when the sun is shining, everything is going well, and you get all the chores done early. But for every one of those good days comes a bad one. All that could go wrong does go wrong. And the day seems like it will never end. Not to mention the weather is horrible.


As we dive head first into this season we all dread but deeply love. I wanted to remind you of a few tips and tricks to help those calves that maybe didn’t get the greatest start to life. My first piece of advice: Timing. Is. EVERYTHING. Contrary to what my husband thinks, the cows can calve without you watching them. But should the weather be nasty and you have a million things to do, the likely hood of saving a calf is greater the sooner you intervene. Some timeline factors to watch out for in a new calf are as follows: within three minutes of birth, the calf should be lifting its head; five minutes it should be trying to sit up; twenty minutes it should be attempting to stand; an hour they should be able to stand, and two hours they should be sucking. Again, this is all in a perfect world, but if you see the calf is not hitting these markers, you might consider checking things out a little closer. Another thing that I would check for immediately after birth is a clear air passage. Whether I am outside watching a cow calve or just pulled a calf, that is the first place I go. After checking the airway, I always like to put the calf in a sitting-up position to promote movement and good airflow. The next thing I would do is stimulate the calf by rubbing its back if they seem groggy. Now, let’s say your calf is still not responding. This is where you should consider bringing out your bag of tricks—heat, more aggressive stimulation, medication, and whatever else you have up your sleeve. I have seen several calves come back after getting some heat and stimulation. But I have also watched the life leave the body as I held them in my lap. Which is not fun and I hope no one ever has to go through that, but I know better. That’s why I decided to share these tips as a good reminder of what to do and Who is ultimately in charge.


While we are on the subject of grumpy people, may I remind everyone to set their clocks forward this week. And remember, if someone is late for a meeting, they more than likely are similar to me and forget to move their clocks. Or they could simply be refusing the time change. I really thought that they were going to do away with that. Guess they proved us all wrong there.


Stay warm, stay safe, and remember, beef is what’s for dinner!


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