Calving Heifers on the WineGlass Ranch

Ranching always provides a good source for fresh stories.

I walked into the corral one morning to check on the first-calf heifers (cows that have never had a calf before).  I watched a newborn calf trying to get his first drink.  The calf was having a tough go because there were two heifers claiming him and he didn’t know which way to turn to get his first meal.

The calf’s mother, the red cow, was trying to sniff and lick the calf.  The calf was trying to suck the grey cow (not his mother).  The grey cow kept putting herself between the calf and his actual mother.  The result was the three of them milling in a circle with nobody being in the right spot.  I gave them a few minutes to sort things out but it became clear that some intervention was needed.  I wandered over to chase the grey heifer away from the pair.  The objective was to move the grey heifer away from the calf and his mother, giving them time to pair-up.  It turns out the grey heifer is one of those cows that will be called special names during future calving seasons.  She was hell bent on taking the newborn calf for herself and she made it clear that I wasn’t going to stop her.

Plan B -> move the calf and his mother into another pen so they could pair-up, away from the other cows.  Moving the calf would require tying the calf into the calf sleigh, dragging the sleigh all the way across the large corral, then go back and try to sort his mother out from the other cows and get her into the corral which may or may not be a lot of work.
I stepped away from the group to ponder on the logistics of Plan B…and the calf walked up to me.  He was obviously very hungry and very confused.  I stepped away again…and the calf followed me again.  Light bulb.  I headed out and the calf followed me like a well trained dog.  The four of us walked quietly all the way across the corrals, me in the lead followed closely by the calf, followed by his mother, followed by the grey heifer.  I walked up and opened the gate into the next pen.  The calf walked past me into the pen, his mother walked past me into the pen, I closed the gate and went about my day!  It was the most amazing thing!  No fuss, no muss.

The grey heifer wasn’t too happy but she eventually went off and had her own calf the next day.


Calving Season Is Almost Here!

WineGlass Ranch Calves near Cochane AlbertaCalving season is less than 3 weeks away and we’re busy getting the shelters and the calving barns ready.  The weather has been great.  We would be very fortunate if the warmer temperatures continued through March and April (although so some snow is needed to get some spring moisture).  The 2011 calving season was tough, lots of cold and snow.  Here’s hoping the 2012 calving season is easier.