Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Calving the Heifers and Hauling Pairs.........

Calves are a poppin out ever'whar so if you've got time, lets see how we calve heifers here at the ranch, shall we?

Ok, now if you remember last post we were sorting heifers.  Well after having a couple surprise babies born in the corral, it was decided to........

 OPEN THE SHED........

Which means the water got turned on in the calving shed, and everything was scrubbed, cleaned, and sanitized.  All the water lines were checked, and the heaters were checked and after everything was gung ho, hunky dory it was time to begin hauling heifers from Herry Ford's house to the calving shed, which is down the crick from us, southwest of the house.

The calvin' shed is a long building with stalls down either side and a concrete floor.  The white wall you see at the side there is where the bedroom for the night time calvin' help is located as well as the Pullin' Room.
After the heifers are hauled to the calving shed they are put in the corral on the southwest side of the shed.  I call them the Ladies in Waiting and here are some of them.....
Please excuse these pictures as I didn't take time to edit them, they are just gonna be straight out of the camera! 

Now, where was I?  Oh those are the ladies in waiting.  They stay out there until Elmer Fudd (he's the kid hired for the month of calving) sees feet sticking out the rear partition.  Once he sees some feet hanging out, he goes out and slowly brings the heifer into the calving shed, where she goes to the pulling room.  Now for some reason our employers here at the ranch pull every single calf (from the 2 year old heifers that is).  I guess some study was done and it was determined that the longer a heifer is in labor, the less her chances of getting bred back.......I really don't know and to tell you the truth, I don't agree with it.  I say only pull if you MUST, but such is life when you are the hired help and not the boss.........ANYWHO, there I go digressing again.

So, she goes to the pulling room where the calf is pulled.  Then the calf is weighed and put into a stall full of nice clean straw with the cow.  Then they are pretty much left alone to bond and figure out life.  Once the calf is dried off and has sucked, the cow is fed 5#'s of cake and some good alfalfa hay.  A couple hours later, they are kicked outside to the corral on the north side of the calving shed to await being hauled "Up Country".

These ladies and babies are waiting to be hauled, and that's what Mouse and I do every morning....

Sometimes it's just way to exhausting for the babies to wait for us.......

After I take The Youngun and Pied to the bus in the mornings, I come back home and Mouse picks me up in her pickup.  Then we head for the calving shed, picking up the gooseneck trailer on the way.  When we get to the shed, we go in the corral with the new mommas and babies and make sure mommas know which baby is which.  We usually have to wake the babies up because they are snuggled up in the straw in the calf sheds, and sometimes they just don't want to leave that warm nest.  I'll get them up and they'll go lay right back down.  They really are like kids, and the funniest thing is when they just go limp and collapse back to the ground because they!!

Just so you know, in case you might decide this is a good way to identify your own children, that green tag 6 in the calf's ear is called his calf tag.  It matches his momma's tag number of 6.  That way in a few days when Mouse goes to check on them, if the #6 cow seems to have misplaced her baby she can find him real quick.  2 year old heifers' calves are the only ones who get those tags cuz they tend to lose their kids more often.  The purple 29 tag means this is the 29th calf out of our purple tag bull 9105.  Are you lost yet?  It's ok, it doesn't matter at all.........

Anywho, now that all the mommas know which baby is which, we are ready to corral them in the alley so we can load them in the trailer.

First to go in are the mommas.......then we shut the divider gate and load up them babies!

And then we are off to haul them to the F field where they get put in a small corral for a few minutes to acclimate. 

They like this because they get cake!

Today we had to haul two loads, so they stayed in their mini corral until we were done hauling the second group up and then we opened the gates and let them out into the big wide world!

This is the first group we hauled down, taken from the area where we corralled the second group....

Then we feed them some alfalfa and they are on their own.  Mouse checks on them morning and night until the youngest calf in the bunch is 2 weeks old.  Then they'll only get checked once a day.  She builds a bunch of 50 pairs, then moves that little herd on up the crick, and starts building another bunch of 50 until all the heifers have calved.

Things go well for the most part, but when you run around 670 head of breeding cattle you are going to run into problems and losses. We had a 95lb bull calf that was upside down and backwards.  The nighttime calving man got him out, but broke his hip in the process.  Dr. Katie came out and put a splint on it, but he got pneumonia and we lost him.  We've had a couple other losses due to calves being born dead, and right now we've got a heifer that's laboring and not progressing at all so Mouse is on the phone with the vet as we speak.  It's all part of the ranching game, and they are good managers with a death loss of less than 5% every year.  This year we are having some really big calves, with one of 108#'s being born today and backwards as well.

It can be heartbreaking when you lose them and Mouse takes it very hard, but it's all worth it when you have a little man like this steal your heart...

He is the curliest calf I've ever seen!

Till next time.............God Bless!


  1. That'a pretty exciting work! It sounds like they've got it figured out to run pretty efficiently.

  2. We don't have that many cows, but I just love calving season. Yours though, is a little more organized than ours. lol

  3. When you make them your life, it is hard to have a loss! I was that way with my sheep and my grandma was that way with my sheep and the horses they raised. Sounds like they have a system down pat though! And I followed the tagging business :)

  4. Wow... thats alot to remember. So cool your doin all that... the calves are so cute.

  5. I love this time of year with all the calves. Soooo sweet. they are being born up the road from me so every day we check to see how many new ones are out in the pasture.

  6. Also live in Montana, the beautiful Flathead Valley. Who couldn't believe in God when you have those gorgeous Montana views!! We also share our love of Kinder® goats. We have a closed herd and have recently added two new registered beauties to our herd.

    God bless
    Nick & Brenda Lee


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