When we went across the river to feed the main herd and the herd of cows/calves in the nursery field, we came across three of the calves that had figured out a way to escape the nursery field and partnered up in the barnyard pasture on the edge of the barn.
Butler, the dog, stood guard just beyond the fence so the wayward calves did not escape before we had the chance to get them reunited with their mothers.
The three calves had made it through the electric fence for their little get-away, but were quite sure they didn’t want to test the fortification shock values to get back to their mothers. We opened the far gate for the three amigos to first get into the barn area barnyard and then they were able to casually walk back into the pasture where their mothers were waiting for them and for their morning measure of breakfast hay in the pasture on the other side of the barn.
Jackson the dog gets frantic this time of year when the new calves are born. He just has to get in close and check for baby poop.
He has been known to go up to a calf while sleeping to lick the tail area clean, or to wake up a calf to check if there is any poop under it. The mothers do not care for him to be so close to their babies so he has learned to be real sneaky and brazen at times.
He crawls right into the pen, nose to the ground and covers every inch. The calves don’t care for the intrusion and it becomes a hokey-pokey kind of dance shuffling this way and that. The calves want to investigate who is coming into the pen but don’t want to get to close to the Unidentified Sniffing Object.
While the dog/calf commotion is going on a cow or two pulls away from eating hay in the manger and come at the dog head first. Jackson is very quick and scoots through the gate and out of the path of being crushed by the cow. But once the cows goes back to eating, Jackson goes back to poop snooping.
We have been keeping an eye on both Mona and Paulette for the last couple of weeks expecting one or both to have a calf any day.
It was a bit a surprise to see Roz with a new heifer calf by her side.
Little Zephyr weighed in at 62 lbs on 1/12/2018. We moved the pair into the nursery field with Topanga and her baby Zion.
It was purely coincidence that they both start with the letter Z since Zion was named after national parks/natural areas (Bryce, Coulee. Delta) and Zephyr was named after the line of Roz Z’s (Zima, Zippy, Zoey). I promise the next calf will not have the first letter Z (mostly because there aren’t enough words under Z in the dictionary) unless the temperature was hovering around Zero (PLEASE NO!) or the newborn began playing the zither shortly after birth.
Topanga and Roz are great mothers, they get along well in the big hay field and when they come to the barn to eat hay. The two calves were wary of each other at first but Zephyr kept following Zion around until the two got used to each other, now they play, cavort and lay down together.
With the last of the calves weaned, it was time for the veterinarian to complete the health check for the year.
We are fortunate to have a local office with stellar professionals that not only have a lot of large animal experience they also show the compassion and ability to treat critters with tender care. The combo is not always easy when an animal gets spooked or worked up from activity that is out of the normal day to day schedule.
Keeping the animals calm makes the veterinarians job easier and it is much easier on the critters, so we lock them into the head stanchions to curtail the calves from running around the pen.
Gentle pressure is used to hold the head of the calf in place while Dr. Kim tattoos, tags and checks over the animals.
Many farms use a squeeze chute to do this process. We are not a large enough enterprise to deem the amount of space and money needed to have an effective area for a squeeze chute. Although there is manhandling going on during our process, there are no injuries to the calves, Mike the pusher, or the vet during this examination.
Mike uses his hip to hold pressure on heifer to keep her from moving.
Veterinarian uses stethoscope to listen to breath sounds.
We had not noticed it right away, but the main herd split into two groups during the night. Some of the more adventuresome critters made their way across the Nehalem that was running high from the week of rain we had just gone through. Luckily, none of the younger animals tried to cross and stayed safely on the far side.
At this crossing where the river bends, the cows seem to have little to no problem crossing from the far side to the road side of the river. Going back across the swift water seems to be tougher for them and they are more hesitant. They find it harder to gain purchase on the slick rocky bottom as their backsides get pushed downstream as they cross. Cows can swim, but rushing water can carry them away if they miss-step and lose contact with the river rock. One cow did drift downstream a ways before getting her footing back.
With the thought of breakfast on their minds, the wayward cattle began to advance through the quick water. The herd sire, Renaissance, was holding back at the edge of the river. Predominately the last one to join the herd, he makes sure there are no missing stragglers from the group before catching up to the rest of the herd.
Most of the cows had made it across before the herd sire got into the water. With Renaissance weighing in at about 2400 lbs the river doesn’t push him around quite as much as the cows that weigh a ton or less.
This little adventure did not bother the half herd, and they were able to join with the others quickly for hay that had been put into the round feeders on the correct side of the river.
Six more calves have gone through the green clip weaner process while in the pasture with their mothers. This group contains the celebrity twins Front and Back, along with two heifers #2 and #5, and two bulls #19 and #21.
We have already removed the clips and transported the group of six from the far side of the river to the their own pen in the show barn.
By having this group sequestered in the show barn, it gives me the opportunity to pamper them. They have all the sweet grass hay they can eat and the pelleted grass seed with molasses grain twice a day.
I have also been chopping apples for them to snack on between feedings.
It will not take very many days for the animals to graduate from this pen. The bulls and steers will be moved into the bull pen and the heifers will be shuffled in with the other three weaned heifers in their own pen.
In a couple weeks, the last group of calves will get the green nose clips inserted and the process begins again.
The five yearlings that had the green weaning clips put in their noses have been separated from their mothers and are learning how to eat hay out of the manger.
Full bales are placed along the manger with fluffed up bales on top. The yearlings learn to lift their heads up to slip into the stanchion to get to the food. Once they put their heads down, the stanchion slides to the closed position and locks their head in. By lifting the hay up for them the first day, they start to get the idea that the sounds and feel of the metal on their neck is not harmful. The one on the left has already figured that out and is not surprised or hesitant about letting the head gate close while he lowers his head to eat.
The five still have the green clips in their noses. As soon as they are comfortable with the stanchions, I will lock their heads in and slip the clip out of their nostrils.
This group is completely weaned from their mothers. There is no bellering or crying, no pacing of fences and no trauma. They are enjoying the chance to eat all the hay they want without adults bunting them away. They are also getting pelleted grass seed screenings and chopped up apples in their diet. The kittens playing in the barn spooked them on the first day but they are getting used to watching the antics.