Calving season has been going on at the Geis ranch for three weeks now. The good news is 2/3 of the cows have had live, healthy calves! We’re going to keep up the work of checking the cows every 4 hours (through the night too) to make sure the other 1/3 calve successfully.
Once the calves are born, the work doesn’t end. As I talked about in an earlier post, the next step is to make sure the calf gets up and drinks momma’s first milk (called colostrum) to help with long-term immunity. In addition, it is important to watch the mother cow to make sure she claims the calf and passes all her afterbirth. If she doesn’t eliminate all the afterbirth from her body, we treat her with an antibiotic to prevent an infection. Manually removing the afterbirth is not good for her, as it can cause parts of her uterus to tear. That’s why we just treat her and let it pass on its own.
As soon as health of mom and baby are assured, the next day we tag and castrate the calves. Tagging is important so we can match the right calf to the correct cow, so if the cows need to be separated into groups we can keep mom and baby together.
Close to birth is an ideal time to castrate the bull calves. Doing the procedure at this time creates much less stress on the calf than doing it later in life. And with all the benefits of castration, as I posted about earlier in another blog post, it is a good idea to get this job done right away.
After tagging and castrating, the calves and cows are moved to another pasture. This way we can keep the still pregnant cows organized away from the mom & baby pairs, making it easier to check labor progression. This gives us a pasture full of calves, running around and bucking and playing under the watchful eyes of the cows. It’s a fun sight.
If you would like to see a few more calf pictures, just head on over to our facebook page where they are posted. We’d like to see you there!