This time of year we start calving our heifers. It is pretty busy. Heifers tend to need a little more guidance and help in the mothering and birthing department than cows do.
Since these first time mothers have a hard time keeping track of whose baby is whose, we put a tag in the calf's ear that matches the number on the mother's tag. That way at least we can keep them straight.
Here Clay is tagging a calf. We try to stay close to the truck and really watch out for the mom when we are tagging. She can be pretty protective.
There are times when a heifer needs help having her calf. In that case, someone has to put her into a corral, where there is a head catch that will hold her in place so that we can pull the calf out. Sometimes it is rather easy, if just a foot is back keeping the calf from progressing. Other times it is much harder, like backwards or just head first, no feet.
She has to be separated from the others and herded into a corral. Sometimes they don't like to be isolated.
This is one of the corrals we have set up in the heifer pasture. Yes, that is a VW van.. It is actually used as a calf heater and a place to keep equipment for pulling a calf.
A head catch is used to hold the heifer still.
Then we need to feel and assess the problem. What position the calf is in, etc.
Don't worry it's ok. We stimulated it's breathing by sticking a piece of straw in it's nose, It shook it's head and was breathing fine.
We put it in the corner of a pen and covered it with straw to keep it warm, then we let the heifer out of the head catch to go check out her new baby.
Sometimes the mom gets confused and leaves her calf and wanders off. When that happens we put the calf somewhere warm and feed it some colostrum. Then we take mom to the pen and lock them up together and hope she figures out the mothering thing.
The majority of the heifers do fine and don't need help. The process of calving all 330 heifers will take well over two months. So stay tuned for more calving pictures.