Thursday, September 8, 2011

Off to college

... or at least that's how we explained it to my niece when she asked why we had to separate the Mama's from the Babies.  As I mentioned earlier, this is my least favorite part of ranching simply because I'm generally over emotional and empathetic in too many situations.  But! by about the 48 hour mark, the Moms have ventured out to their huge pasture and the babies have gone to find water and better grass and everyone seems to have moved on.

Many question why weaning is necessary. Some say its cruel, some say its premature, I say its easy to think those things but when you consider those calves have been on the teet for 6 months (almost as long as most children and when you put it in relation to their life span they are about 12 in human years) they need to be forced to learn to eat grass and survive on their own.  Not to mention those Cows are already pregnant and need to concentrate on growing another healthy calf so they cannot be nursing, pregnant AND trying to take care of themselves!!  ( Our cows are good, but not that good!! )

So here's how it goes down.  We gather all the pairs in all three pastures and bring them up to the pens.  We then sort off all the calves from the moms and move them as quickly and calmly as we safely can  back to their weaning pasture.  Once they're on their side then we work the cows by vaccinating and preg checking them.

Once all the cows are worked then we just let them wander out to check on their babies through the fence.  Some of our veteran cows just head on out to the big pasture happy for the break while a few of the new mama's hang around to console their calves ( and hopefully their utters)  You see, I like to believe that it's an emotional reaction that these cows are having that their calves are missing but the reality and biology of it all is that they are bagged up and they want their baby to help them out with that.  After about 48 hours the cow will stop producing that milk and the pressure subsides as does the fence sitting. 

They will spend the next two weeks out there settling back down and making sure everyone is good and weaned and then we'll bring the babies home to the feed lot where they'll be on grass and a feed ration to start preparing them for the inevitably long winter ahead!

 Isn't he so handsome? Sorry, I couldn't resist!!


  1. Wait the cow in the picture before or do you mean your hub in the picture above?

  2. she means her hubby...and "yes" Natalie he IS so very handsome! On the other hand...Good article.