Latest CJW Pino Ranch Update - All About Calving
Look at this nice big momma to be! She is a heifer and getting ready to have her first baby in a short 7 weeks. That is what qualifies her as a heifer instead of cow. Although, we have a bad habit of calling them heifers for a couple years past their first calf. Time moves on but our memory doesn’t seem to catch up.
It is hard to believe calving season is going to be here so soon. I sure hope the weather cooperates and doesn’t stay cold too much longer than it should. We try to have calves in the warmer parts of spring between April-May. We try and control the calving season by putting the bulls out with the cows for 60 days, about 283 days before we want them to calf. So, our bulls go out the end of June and stay till the end of August. It is not a popular breeding season in these parts because it is so hot, and some cows won’t get bred in the heat. We have had decent success with it, and it helps us choose the cows that can perform in our climate.
These heifers we bought this year are due in March however so we will have to be a little more watchful with the weather.
Especially, since I think the weather patterns have shifted about a month the last couple years. The snow we should have had around Christmas instead comes the end of January. The warmth and growth we should have in March comes in April. There is no telling though, until it happens.
There are a few reasons we choose to calve later than our neighbors who have babies Feb-March. One of the biggest is the weather, having baby calves in the freezing temperatures is a lot more work and higher risk. The cows must be monitored to make sure the babies are able to get up and get warm. A lot of times that means the rancher is out there all-night checking and even having to take the babies into a warmer spot, like a truck or house for a few hours. We can avoid this almost entirely (excluding random storms) by having babies later in the spring.
Another reason is that a lactating cow requires a lot better forage than what is available in the winter/early spring. So, but calving later the grass is much greener and better quality without us having to spend a lot in extra supplements for the cows.
Finally, we are also able to avoid a lot of sickness in the calves with the warmer weather and constant moving of pastures that we do.
Either way, I love calving season. I say it is like Christmas morning every day when we go to check the cows and find little presents in the form of healthy little baby calves! I once said I wanted 365 cows so I could have a new baby every day. I now retract that statement and enjoy having babies only 60 days of the year now that I know better.
Did you know a cow’s gestation is only 3 days longer than human gestation of 280 days or 40 weeks? I found that information extra interesting when I was pregnant and could not stop comparing myself to cow 😊