Daylight hours are short. But once the sun is up enough to see, someone is out checking the hospital pen. This is a pen where chronics and poor doing calves are kept in order to let us have easy access to them and give them access to feed without as much competition from other pen-mates. This is why different classes of cattle are penned separately from one another, to minimize the in-pen competition.
This person will evaluate health, check the water bowls to make sure they have not frozen, and push up feed that cattle can no longer reach. The hospital pen has free choice hay, that needs to be pushed up. Once they have done that, they will go through all the other pens doing a health check. Pulling any animals that need treatment and checking water bowls.
Walking through a doing a health check, sounds distinctly vague. Doesn’t it. What is this person actually doing. Calves don’t tell you they aren’t feeling well. Or do they? There are a number of different ways a calf may let someone know they aren’t feeling well: a droopy ear or being slow to get up and to the feed bunk. Lameness can be more obvious or a cough, difficulty breathing and a runny nose.
At the same time, someone is warming up tractors to start feeding. They will mix silage, hay, greenfeed and pellets/barley into the mix wagon to feed each pen. This will take between 4-5 hours.
Twice a week they will put out bedding (i.e. straw for cattle to lay on). More often if it is snowing and particularly cold.
At 3pm someone will walk through the calves again and take a look at the feed bunks to determine if anything needs to change the next day. Feed intake can vary with the weather. When it is windy, calves tends to stick close to the windbreaks not eating much but once things clear up they may play ‘catch-up’ eating more. Also when it is cold, they will eat more as they have to use more energy to keep warm. We want the bunks cleaned up, but not licked clean. The bunks are monitored closely and adjusted accordingly.