Saturday, 21 May 2011

Full of Life!

Calving season is one of my favorite times of the year, it is so full of life and it's the time I really wish I didn't have school so I could be more involved. I'm going to run through a typical day during calving season and how we run things.

Calving Stalls
We have a field that we call the "calving field," it directly connects to the barn and calving pens, the cows are out in the pasture for the day and at night we run them all in and lock them up so we can check them easily throughout the night. We have sixteen calving stalls down close to the calving pasture and then another six stalls up in the barn where we bring cows if they need help and where they stay when we need to graft calves onto other cows! When a cow is calving we bring her into one of the stalls away from the rest of the cows for her to finish calving. Pretty much once the calve has had there first drink we kick them out to a bigger kick out pen, when you get an average of 15-20 calves a day they are moved and stalls cleaned ready for the next one.

When a calve is born we write it in a calving book like this one.

From the left we have
  • The first number is the calves number, we increase in a numerical order as they are born.
  • Next is the day they were born.
  • The dam (mother of the calve)
  • The sire (father of the calve)
  • Sex (M-male, F-female)
  • Birth weight of the calve
  • This is if the cow was AI'ed of we saw her get breed it shows how many days she is over or under! For example +1 means she is one days overdue, -2 means she is two days early, and then ND stands for no date, showing we don't know when she got bred for sure.
  • And on the far right, there is a variety of different letters and numbers.
    • CBH stands for calved by herself, EP stands for easy pull and then usually the reason why they needed help, like being BKW (backwards), one leg down, breach or stretched out.
    • On the males most of them have RT which stands for red testicle, on the females they have a number such as 4 or 5, some 6 which is the number of tits that they have.
    • The RN on some of the calves is short for red neck.
    • And finally the numbers like 95/90, E(short for 100)/50, GE/GE etc. is the pigment that the calves have around their eyes. Pigment is basically red around there eyes. So a 95/90 means one eye is 95% pigmented around and the other 90%. The E/50 is a 100% and 50%. And then when GE/GE at all shows up that means that they have a goggle eye which is like a whole patch of red. For example the calve in the middle of the two cows in this picture has goggle eyes, large ones. the cow to his left has one goggle eye and the other can't really tell how much pigment she has from a distance.
Some buyers want red necks, and most want red testicles, and pigment so with this information recorded it is easy to look up if someone would like to know which calves have what before they see them.

When the babies are born we weigh them with a calve scale like this one shown above.

The calves will all get a tag so we can identify them and because we have horned Hereford's, all the heifer calves get de-horned along with all the bull calves that are over 109 pounds because anything over is just to heavy of a birth weight so they will end up as steers in the end.
We engrave the numbers into the tag, the bottom number is the calves number (276Y), the middle number is the calves mom's number (30W) and the top number along with on the back of the tag is the dad (39T)! This is the tag they will always wear, they are never changed.

And that is a typical calving day through the months of February 1st to the end of April. Three months filled with life and with out a doubt the most amazing time of the year!

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