As producers, we like it when our cows have calves on a predictable schedule. We call it our “calving window” and from a management perspective, there are a lot of good reasons to maintain a tight calving window. When a group of cows calves at the same time, it helps us closely monitor their pregnancies, for instance. Knowing that a cow (or better yet, a group of cows) is within a week of calving means that we can move them to more sheltered pastures, alter their ration, or simply just keep a closer eye on things.
In some regions, particularly where severe weather is the norm, cows are brought to special calving barns. Here in Virginia, cows are expected to calve outside, and most of the time, it works really well. Last month at a rental farm, one of our groups of cows calved, and I was out there at least once a day, and often twice a day to make sure they were safe and well and where they belonged. It involves a lot of walking around and just watching how the cows look and act.
In that group, all 23 cows calved within 30 days.
A a week off from that, I’m watching another group of cows here at the house. When we’re calving out at home, we bring the cows to the pasture right by our house, and I can easily watch them from the comfort of my living room, using my trusty binoculars.
In this group is a first calf heifer we call Princess Squishy. She is what is called a commercial cow. She was born here on the farm, sired by a Red Angus bull, but her mama is out of a cow that we bought, and we really don’t know much about her. What we do know is that Princess Squishy is the sweetest, nosiest, silliest cow we have and she always just makes us smile. And in spite of the fact that she’s not tame, we AI’d (artificially inseminated) her to a Shorthorn bull, in hopes of getting a flashy red heifer calf to show.
So every hour or so, I grab my binoculars and run into the living room to see what Princess Squishy is up to. Is she standing up? Is she laying down? Is she standing funny? Is she away from the group?
I wish she’d hurry up. I have stuff to do.