April and May consist of calving and seeding season on Grant Ranch. We calve out cows on pasture. Calving season is a period of high labour assisting with any cows having difficulty calving and checking to ensure the calves are getting enough milk. Ensuring adequate suckling from the udder in the first 12 hours is very important in immune function development. This first milk being produced is called colostrum and contains important vitamins, minerals, and antibodies which allow the development of the immune system. However, these antibodies are only absorbed through the rumen wall for the first 24 hours, with decreasing absorption after 12 hours.
If this colostrum is not consumed from the dam, the calf will need to be provided with colostrum. The most common source of colostrum is using freeze dried bovine (cow) colostrum that is simply mixed with water and fed to the calf via a bottle with a nipple. Calves that are unable to receive colostrum or milk in adequate amounts will become gaunt. Gaunt calves which may have been abandoned (possibly a twin) will appear very thin with an arched back and sunken in eyes. These calves will be provided with milk replacer to meet nutrient requirements and bring their body weight back up.
Daily activities during calving season include driving a quad through pastures to check on cows that are expected to calve as well as checking the health of cow-calf pairs. If there are concerns about a pair, they are often brought in to a cattle handling system with a squeeze that allows the cow to be safely restrained, while someone assists the calf to suckle.
Seeding has also been in full swing, which keeps everyone here very busy. Both will be wrapped up shortly and the focus will begin to shift towards pasture management and grazing rotations.