On the Ranch: It’s Calving Season!

On the Ranch: It’s Calving Season!

Hello again! It’s that time of year again-calving season. At this point in time we are well into Calving Season 2018.

 This time of year is very important because it is a determinate for the rest of the year and beyond. We genetically (Polled Shorthorn) search for easy breeding cows.

We also believe that good nutrition and proper minerals post calving works hand and hand with early breeding.

This year our 2018 calf crop is almost unheard of,  87% of our cows were bred in the first cycle.  Now, if you are confused about what calving season entails I have some answers for you.

What is it?

The peak season on ranches in which the major it of calves are born. At Toedtli Ranch we calf in the Spring.

When calves are born it is a process which requires a lot of work.

When calves come into the world the rancher must be vigilant. Calving is a 24-hour process where the mothers need to be checked around the clock to make sure she is doing well.

“But during calving season the cowboy operates under the sovereignty of Murphy’s First Law: “Whatever can go wrong – will”.” 

When calves are born they come feet first and about 70 pounds. The mothers are usually taken closer to the building to protect the new borns from the elements and keep an eye on them.

However, the calves can with stand a whole lot of cold and with in hours can be found standing and full of milk.

The nice thing about calves being born this late in the spring is the fear of frost fades and it is more likely calves survive when they do not have to face the brutal winter snow/wind.

Cows will recognize their own calf out of hundreds even thousands of other cows just based off of their unique smell.

New mothers are so much in-tune with this enate sense they will not allow other calves suck.

There is however a percentage of death at birth. 1-10% of births leave cows without calves to raise.

Sometimes calves are even orphaned and twins sometimes require grafting.

Grafting is when a calf and cow are matched up as an adopted pair. It is hard for the matching sometimes because of the sense mother cow have over their original calfs.

Calving at Toedtli Ranch

We feed our cow in the late afternoon around 4.  When we do this most cows will birth their calves during the daytime we open calve which means that they have their calves out in the pasture.
For the most part we will confine at night for shelter and ease of checking to see which one are calving and or having problems at night we will isolate cow that are actively calving.
Once a cow has her calf the calf is taged with cow # for identification given routine vaccination heath check and entered into data base with sex and identifying characteristics.
Within a few days cow and calf will be moved to post calving pasture. This does two things keep the calving pasture cleaner (less chance for diseases) and makes it easier to see which cow are calving.
The post calving cows are the started on their pre breeding ration which helps with recovery from calving ,producing milk and gaining weight so the she will cycle sooner.
The younger cows are given a slightly better ration because they have the most difficult time recovering from calving.
Before we began doing this we had more opens and more late calving cows in the. 2 yr cows than any other group. We have now reversed this as they are mostly equal now.
 At 20 days into calving we have less than 100 cows left to calve.
We hold over our cull year cows 9th year of calving until they have their calf this gives us a pool of claves to pull from if a younger cow looses her calf. ( We typically have 95 to 97 % rate of exposed cow to weaned calf.) will be selling these pairs (cow and calf ) next week at Ogallala sale.
We are also getting ready for breeding season we have tested our bulls (for potency ) check feet, weight,  condition overall health. And began checking fences for when we move to summe pastures.


Be on the look out for our next blog post!

For more information about Calving and ranch life itself click here.