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Summer calves

We have two separated groups of cows here on the farm, one that calves in Jan-March and the other the calves in July-September. Our summer calving group (unimagitively referred to as Herd 2) consists of 40 females. 34 of these are cows - these have all had calves before and 6 are heifers. For the heifers this will be their first calf. All of the heifers are "home bred" so are the female offspring of our better cows. This means within the herd there are a number of related mothers and daughters and even the odd grandmother, mother, and daughter. The heifers have their first calf from 2 years old, our oldest cow is 14. With the right care and genetics our cows can live to a ripe old age and the aim is that over their lifetime will produce 10 (or more) calves.

We scan all our cattle 4 to 5 months before calving so we know who's in calf and whether the bulls have done their job - this year with Herd 2 we achieved a 100% scanning rate which was great. This means we have a pretty good idea when the calves will start appearing - but there is still a lot of anticipation until the first appear.

On a day to day basis first thing in the morning we go and check all is well. In an ideal situation we turn up, walk around the cattle and find a new calf with its mother that has already been up and suckled. This is what happens in 90% of the cases. In a few we have to assist with the birth, or assist in the first suckling until the calf gets the idea. This year we had a calf with a foot stuck backwards, so we had to manipulate the head and forward foot back inside the cow bring the stuck foot forward and then the calf popped out. We would then keep checking them through the day every few hours. We also have to ear tag the calves and register each birth on the government database - each ends up with its own paper "passport" which accompanies it its whole life.

As I write this we have had 32 calve with only 8 left. A record number to calve in the first 3 weeks. Hopefully the last 8 won't wait too long!

About as fresh as they get!

One of our heifers first calf

Soon off exploring