I just love watching the young calves. The exuberance of the babies multiplies with each addition to the herd. The calves bunch up and make friends with other newbies while they explore their world, but there are still times when they aren’t in a playing mood and then they become real serious about the business of eating.
It is a well known fact that nursing is hard work for babies. Their body temperature can raise up two degrees just from the effort they spend getting milk from the momma cow.
Watching a calf put every bit of energy into filling their belly, is an enjoyable pastime. When we show animals away from the farm at events and fairs, the nursing baby always draws a crowd.
A month old calf that understands all the ins and outs of nursing, will latch onto its mother and will run patterns around all four teats, making sure to get every last drop, and then nurse a little more just for good measure. The meal can take a mere ten minutes or last longer than twenty, depending on the calf and if the mother agrees.
By the time the calves are done eating, they are breathing heavy, they are warm from the milk inside them and by the exertion, and they have milk residue smeared all over their face. They usually have their tongue lolling out a bit. It is obvious that they are sated. I refer to these babies as milk stupid. They just stand there with what looks like a dopey smile, while their bodies cool down.
This residue shows up clearly on Black Angus. The white milk is sticky enough to plaster the hair on their face into whorls and curls, soon to be licked clean by the momma.