Today we hit a calving high so far in the season with 20 calves born. Cows were calving almost as fast as we could put pairs out into the other pasture.
Weather can have an impact on cattle behaviors. It’s easier to tag calves in the morning than the afternoon. Calves are more sprite and run from you. When you chase them to catch them the cow gets excited and then the games begin. Other cows feed on the excitement.
Also, wind makes critters act stupidly. Horses can be a little more giddy on a windy day and cattle don’t work as well. Last year we had out heifers in the heifer lot during a blizzard with winds that just seemed to funnel through the hills. My husband and I noticed one of our heifers had wandered off by herself and calved.
When we pulled up to the calf I was afraid it wasn’t doing well due to the cold. It was late in the night and we pulled the pickup up in front of her with the brights on to see. My husband decided to get out and check on the calf. Usually heifers are flighty and will run away when you go to look at their calves.
He got out of the pickup and took the spotlight as he walked towards her, cold wind howling through the trees. He got within 5 feet and the heifer took in after him. She would had got him but she slipped in the snow and fell. My husband turned and ran as fast as he could but because of the bright lights he couldn’t see. He forgot he left the door open to the pickup and slipped as he ran straight into it, slamming it shut with his face. I just saw him hit the door and go down.
The heifer was still acting crazy and I got out to go help him as he pulled himself up by his boot straps and bailed into the bed of the pickup. I backed the pickup away and he got out of the bed and into the cab. Turning on the light showed blood running down his face and I thought he had lost some teeth but realized after further inspection that it was just his chew that had come loose all over his mouth. The bridge of his nose was swelling and bloody. Other than that, he was fine!
Bad cows get a V for very aggressive, really bad cows get a note too…
About 15 minutes later I was at least able to laugh about it. The image of him biffing it into the door was hilarious to me…. it took him a couple days. The bruise on his nose lasted past branding.
The combination of the wind and bright lights into the cows eyes had to have been scary to her. Now when I spotlight cows I try not to shine the light in their eyes.
We tried to tag one today that went about like this:
My husband tried to talk me into tagging and vaccinating the calf while he kept the cow away. I told him even if he was the Incredible Hulk, there’s no way he could get me to sit on that calf or stand between the cow and her calf. He then tried to get my father in law who was horseback to drive off the cow. When the horse got within 10 feet she took in after it too. He refused. We pulled the pickup up beside the calf and my husband leaned over the edge and pulled the calf into the bed by its feet. Lucky for us it was small.
Our other cow that we grafted the twin to (see Twins!) is a little wild. I tried to defend her today by saying she is probably a good protective mother. My husband said “yeah, like she’d protect her calf from being attacked by coyotes???” Okay, so she failed there too, she’s a good candidate for culling then….
We try to keep our cows on good behavior and breed docility. Temple Grandin did a study that showed cows with hair whorls below their eye level are more docile. As the hair whorls rise, so does the temperament of the cow. The cow that was aggressive today had no hair whorl, which is connected to the highest temperament. The one that ran me down in the Calf Taggin’ Shenanigans post also had no hair whorl…..
Temple Grandin’s article can be seen on her site here: Temple Grandin, Hair Whorls
It seems I talk about our bad cows more than our good ones. How interesting would it be to hear about our polite cows every day? At any rate, there are some that stand out as cow of the month recipients. Like 025, the first cow I got to eat from my hand, now we have about 10 that will.
Cow 363 got a gold star this year when we went to tag her calf in the meadow and she was perfectly calm on a windy day. Not only has she earned her keep for 11 years, she has beautiful structure and every year she’s had a heifer calf it was selected as a replacement.
The cow that just had twins, 012, was very agreeable as well.
So here’s to our good cows, may they produce many replacement heifers.