Memories and miracles of spring calving

During calving, our daily schedules and day-to-day chores shift so we can focus on watching over the cows in our herd who will soon be in labor.

One of the ways that we monitor our cows is by sorting out the girls whose due date is about two weeks away. We keep records on breeding dates so we know when a cow is going to have her baby. A cow’s gestation period is approximately nine months; just like a human’s. We also have a veterinarian come out and ultrasound our cows at 90 days to tell us what stage of life the calf is at that time.

Normally, our cows spend their time out on a big pasture. During calving, we wort our cows into smaller pastures. This allows us to get to them quickly if there is a problem with calving, such as a delayed birth or backwards calf. We visit these pens at least four times a day to check for active birthing.

Prepping and monitoring for new life

When we see a cow in labor, we do our best to monitor from afar so that she can have the calf on her own. Just like human births, we time the mama cows’ birth and check-in to see how her labor is progressing in case we need to help.

We have all our gates, chutes and equipment set up in case we need to assist with a birth. In case we have a cow and calf that need to be isolated, we have calving pens set up so we can provide extra help with the nursing process.

Getting calves started on the right foot

After a calf is born, we ensure it is breathing and keep an eye on it from afar. Before we put our hands on the calf, we make sure that the cow has time to clean her baby and bond with it. It is important that the calf gets up on its own and nurses from the mother. Calves will stand as early as ten minutes after birth and their first instinct is to find food. Colostrum, the mothers first milk, is the most important food a calf can get at birth because it has antibodies to protect the newborn from disease.

After the calf has nursed, we tag each calf with an ear tag marked with the same number as the mom. Similar to humans, we give them a few vaccines to help the calf get started on the right foot and keep them healthy.

Miracle of birth is rewarding

Calving requires a lot of work and of sleepless nights, but there is nothing more special than witnessing the miracle of birth.

Recently, we had a cow giving birth who needed some assistance so it was all hands on deck with our farm kids. The kids helped pull the calf out while I assisted in removing the placenta as the calf was being delivered so it could breathe.

My children were so excited about helping to deliver that newborn baby. It’s moments like these that are the reason we raise cattle. We love raising cows and being able to witness the miracles the farm has to offer. It is truly rewarding.

Michael and Sara Prescott

About Michael and Sara

We have a herd of more than 100 mama cows on our farm, Prescott Angus & Simmental, in Lincoln. Our three kids, Madison, Emma and Carter, are involved from the time a calf is born to the day it’s shipped off to be fed out.

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