Ahh spring, it’s an amazing time of year isn’t it? It’s time for flowers, mud puddles, and Easter egg hunts, chirping Blue Birds on tree branches, and best of all, new life everywhere! Every year, I, along with many other farmers, look forward to spring with anticipation because new calves mean that we were yet again blessed with the opportunity to care for a life.
So how did that life begin?
A lot has to happen before there’s a calf on the ground, and it takes a great amount of prior planning and research on the farmers part to ensure a healthy pregnancy and birth. A farmer can choose to have their cows bred by a bull or by Artificial Insemination (AI), which is a very common practice. Which practice the farmer chooses mostly depends on preference, and also whether the farmer is able to facilitate a bull (bulls can be dangerous and quite destructive). After the cow is bred, she is checked in about 45-60 days to ensure that all is going well with the pregnancy. A cow’s gestation period is typically about 283 days, and can vary slightly depending on breed.
The big event!
Now that we’ve gone through how the calf comes to be, it’s time for the main event. When a cow is getting ready to have her calf, there’s usually some tell-tale signs. First, she will separate herself from the rest of the herd (if she’s not in a separate pen already), she’ll probably hold her tail up, and she’ll start looking uneasy, meaning that she shifts her weight a lot. When she’s really ready, she will lay down and start to push, and if the calf is in normal presentation, you will see two feet (pointed down) and a little calf head. If you don’t see this, then that’s usually a sign that something is wrong in the way the calf is positioned inside, and sometimes requires a little help from the farmer in getting the calf out safely. In just a matter of time, there will be a new bouncing baby calf!
A calf’s life
Once the calf is born, it is up and running within a few hours. In only the first few days, it will be running circles around mamma, jumping and playing, and just enjoying life. A typical day for the newborn and growing calf will probably begin and end with a nice hearty dose of milk, and some calf napping and fun in between (they eat a bunch throughout the day too). All that nursing and playing makes for a fast growing calf. In just a few months, the calf weighs a few hundred pounds and continues to grow faster every day.
A calf’s life is one of adventure and curiosity, and watching them grow is sure to put a smile on your face 🙂