Calves, Fences, and Frustration

Editor’s Note: Before I get into this week’s post, I would just like to inform my readers of a slight change. I’m going to start posting every other week for the foreseeable future instead of once a week. Thanks for your continued interest in my blog. 

Kit Kat, Snickers, and Oreo stand together in our back pasture.

Every year our cows give us a new batch of calves about nine months after being exposed to a bull. This year was no different, and each mama delivered a bright-eyed baby, save one. One is still pregnant. Marabelle, due to calf any day, will be the final one to calf, because she was the last one to be bred. Actually, she wasn’t supposed to be bred at all, but she was determined. Click here for that story.

Our first calf of the year, Smoky, was out of sync with all the others, because his mama was bred earlier to a different bull. So, little Smoky is already in the process of being weaned. I’ll refer back to Smoky in a minute. 

Reese’s is the youngest calf so far.

We’ve had five other calves within a month of each other. Last year, I named our round of calves all soda names: Pepsi, Seven-Up, Coke, etc. This year, I went with sweets: Oreo, Kit Kat, Snickers, and Reese’s. Sienna’s calf got a different name, Clarabelle, since I may decide to keep her and train her as a milk cow. 

After each calf is born, it gets an ear tag, a name, and, if it’s a bull, it gets banded (made into a steer). We’ve been very fortunate with our calves. In the six years that we’ve had cattle on our farm, we’ve never lost a calf, had any birthing problems, had any twins, or had a mama not be able to nurse her calf. In short, we’re thankful we haven’t experienced any calving problems so far. Of course, we run a very small herd. The bigger the herd, the more likely you’ll have some issues. 

Here’s Mabel, one determined mama.

Back to Smoky… When we recently moved our herd from the front pasture to the back, Smoky and another one of our older steers, Chuck, were the last two to go through the gate. I took this opportunity to keep those two separate from the herd. They both needed to be transported to another pasture to get wormed, and Smoky needed to be weaned from Mabel. However, while Smoky was across the fence from his mama, Mabel somehow managed to get over the fence and back in with him. I’ll fix that, I thought. We loaded both steers into the trailer, drove them to the other pasture, wormed them, and left them with some other older calves. 

However, this pasture was not far enough away from our own. The two troublemakers went through fence trying to get back to their herd. Smoky actually made it all the way back to his mama. Chuck made it back to our neighbor’s property and was not so much fun to try and chase back into the right paddock. (He even took my husband on a jog through the woods along the way.)

After a couple of days, I was able to capture Smoky again. This time, we hauled him over to a working pen and locked him in there with Chuck so the two could cool their heels a few days and adapt to their new location. 

It can sure be frustrating when cows don’t respect fences. A cow that learns to jump or go through fence usually ends up at the sale barn… in effect, between a sesame seed bun.    

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