Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Arrivals on the Ranch

 The weather is working out great this year for calving. The heifers usually begin calving the end of January and continue for a couple months. First the ones that were artificially inseminated give birth, then the ones that were inseminated the old-fashioned way with the clean-up bulls are next. Gestation is nine months, just like humans. After birth, things change quickly--in one year, calves can grow from about 45 pounds to 800 pounds.

 This mama is enjoying a little snack while her young'un rests near by. The calves are usually tagged within 12 hours of birth with the same number as their mom. That makes it easier in case the mama cow has problems figuring out how to be a mama. By definition, the heifers are first time moms, so sometimes they need a little help.

 I just love looking at calves. If you want to see some more, you can check out this post (which includes the mom eating the placenta.)

 Desert Girl also really liked seeing the babies.

 Many of the heifers are snacking on the grass left from last year. You can find out more about what the heifers eat here (and see more cute calf and Desert Boy photos).

 Not all sights out in the heifer field are quite as cute. Above, a heifer strains with her contractions. She will give birth within a few hours. Sometimes they stand and sometimes they lay down (like in the photo below). We have a cowboy out in the field every couple hours around the clock checking on the heifers for over six weeks. If he comes upon any heifers with trouble, he can help pull the calf. Fortunately, though, most calves are born without any problems. The bull sperm is chosen for a lower birth weight to make an easier first birth. And as you might have noticed, nearly all the calves are black. That's because the sperm chosen for this year was from a black angus bull. (To get a glimpse of the catalog, yep, that's right, a sperm catalog, click here.)

Many calves were happily nursing. As they gain strength, they start frolicking and playing. The moms eventually allow other cows to babysit and will leave the calves for short periods of time.

A couple days after birth, the calves and their mamas are moved out of the Circle Field (aka the birthing field) to a meadow where they can hang out in the nursery. That makes it easier to check the birthing field to see how the cows are doing.

I didn't shoot any video, but if seeing all these cows makes you long to hear some cows, you can see my YouTube video. For some reason, over half a million people have wanted to watch cows mooing. You can be one, too! :)

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