Cows start dropping their calves in mid-March and keep going through the end of April, never stopping for single digit temperatures, snow storms or sleep. Calving season is the ultimate test of toughness and resilience for cow/calf pairs and ranchers who raise them. Ranching is already a full time job but it becomes an on-call, 24/7 schedule for the next two months.
(Getting out at first light to check and see if there are any new calves after having checked at 1 AM and 4 AM)
While calving isn’t the most glorious part of ranching, it’s by far one of the most crucial seasons with the longest lasting impact for cows and ranchers alike. The equation is very simple: a safe and healthy calving process means a safe and healthy herd for many seasons to come. Getting a calf on the ground, tagged and vaccinated will allow it to grow into a heifer (young female) to become breeding stock or a steer (castrated male) to be raised for beef. Both outcomes put the ranch operations in a position to see another day and have a return on all of the hard work.
(A calf with a new tag and vaccines getting up and getting back to its mother)
The level of care provided by the ranchers is unparalleled for both cow and calf. When it comes time to vaccinate and tag the calf, the pair are separated from the rest of the herd in order to cause less commotion and stress for the cow and calf. Calves, like any other newborn, are given vaccinations and supplements that help immunize them and stay healthy as they grow. After the ear is tagged and vitamins administered, the pair is turned out. While ranchers are always keeping a watchful eye on the cow calf pair, it’s up to new mother to raise her calf until spring rolls in and it's time for branding season.
(Rubber ear tags are placed in the calves ear, right or left ear depending on sex of the calf, and each tag has a number that matches the calf’s mother)
(Cows are usually brought into the calving barn to deliver their calf but once they’re warmed up and on their feet it’s out to the pasture)