We try to hold off until a cow is very near birthing or just after delivering before we move her into the nursery field so the turf is less likely to get torn up from all the foot prints.
With forecasts of rain (with some of it very heavy) expected for the next week, we have pre-sorted #68 Sapphire from the main herd and out into the nursery field. She lost her mucus plug and that is a good sign that there is only a few days before calving and we wanted her to stay out of the muddy areas that dirty up udders and the calves that they birth. And for those keeping count, Sapphire is the mother to the bull #16 Blue who was sold and just moved to his own herd a few days ago.
We are still waiting on Paulette who is either having a very large calf or twins (we thought she was close to calving for the last month). She is wider than a caboose and practically waddles as she walks. She sure isn’t missing any meals.
As I was walking the rolling slopes of the big hay field soon to be filled with the new mothers and calves, I noticed that I was not alone.
Over the horizon of the next hillock, sets of eyes were watching.
A herd of elk stretched from one side of the field to the other across the back of the big hay field, dotting the area just beyond the inside fence and before the tree line.
They were watching me intently as I tried to get a good count on the critters.
Before the herd took off in a mass evacuation, I counted at least 30 elk. I saw 3 with horns, 2 of them being spikes and one branch bull. Several of this years calves were spotted mixed in with the big cows even though it is hard to distinguish them while the herd is moving because they must weigh 400 lbs. or more already.
In a flash, the herd jumped the fence and headed off into the trees. The sound of the herd crashing through the river sounded a few minutes later as they ran to safer ground.
Imagine a garden hose that has the inner rubber lining thinning and causing the outer wraps of the hose to expand and grow larger than the intended diameter. Some cows experience that same kind of deterioration.
The cow #7 is 7 years old and she has ‘boobular’ issues. The underlying structure of her teats has broken down as she has been maturing. During the summer and winter months the issue is not a problem, but during calving, her large bag and even bigger teats tend to drag in the mud and the muck leaving a most undesirable dinner plate for newborns. In addition, the extra large teats are quite cumbersome for newborns to maneuver around to get a solid grip for a satisfying meal.
Normally, we would cull this animal from the herd because of the extra care needed to keep her and her calf healthy. #7 has shown herself to be of good gentle disposition where we can get her moved from pen to field easily and she is a wonderful mother who has raised several really good calves that have been sold with a nice profit. She has earned her keep even with the extra work.
It may still be several days, but #7 was looking like she was getting close to calving so we moved her out into the nursery field with the other mothers with babies so that her bag could get cleaned up before she calved. We may still have to help her newborn learn to nurse from the ‘balloon boobs’, but at least they will be clean when she does decide to deliver.
We could see Blush about 200 feet from the rest of the cows off to herself. It was obvious she was in labor.
Little Maroon was born in the back of the big nursery field just as we were feeding the rest of the cows and babies. As we got closer we could see the minute-old calf struggling to stand. We gave Blush a slab of hay to eat.
She was very hungry from all the birthing business and took time to eat her fill while Maroon stood and flopped countless times around her until finally getting his feet to cooperate enough for forward movement. He was hungry after all that birthing business also and took right to eating.
From birth to standing and nursing, all in about 15 minutes.
Two cows, Princess and Blush were moved into the nursery field. Mike remarked that they both could calve any day and needed to be out in the green pasture where they could avoid the muddy side hill around the feeding mangers.
Out of the two cows, Princess had her baby first. Welcome to the world, Duke who weighed in at 72 lbs.
Our cow, Sudoku was looking a bit pregnant. Actually, she was looking a lot preggo, and Mike moved her out into the nursery field with the other mother cows in an effort to keep her bag clean and have a comfortable environment for the birth.
Within 24 hours of being moved, she had a new baby.
The little bull Jeopardy weighed in at 65 lbs. and got established with the other babies quickly. By the second feeding, all momma and baby calves were eating together.
We had moved Celia out into this field a day before Suduko, but she has not had her calf yet.
When doing the morning chores, we found #86 Twisty had swam across the river to find a nice spot to calve.
Wrench was busy sleeping when I caught up with the pair. By the time we got the other cows fed, Twisty had moved her baby from the field down to the river where she took him across to join the other mothers in the nursery field. Little wrench struggled to keep up with his mother while learning to swim, but made it across safely.
He did run into a little trouble trying to climb up the mud trail and he flopped a couple of times before getting the hang of it.
It was a good thing that this day turned off warm and sunny. He was dry and comfy in no time, he is happy and healthy and weighs 72 lbs.