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Eager mother makes life difficult at calving time
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Eager mother makes life difficult at calving time

Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at jaclyn@flyingdiamondgenetics.com.

Well, we have been without power going on 10 hours as of Monday morning. I’m sure with all of the heavy snow there are probably numerous power lines down. Every highway around us is closed, but here on the ranch we are still open for business.

One of the great things I love about our industry are the messages or calls checking in when there is a storm that will hit or has hit. I wonder how many urbanites have a blizzard that hits them and the neighbor texts “hang in there, stay safe, and make sure and take care of yourself too?”

It was a beast-and not a very nice one. The rain started on Saturday. It continued on through until around 6 Sunday morning and then the snow came. The temps would have made it tolerable until someone decided, “Hey, let’s throw in some wind too.” The Weather Channel app said gust over 50 mph and I believe it.

The recipient cows are in a lot by the house and I have enough overhang barn space I could bring all of them in under cover. The natural service cows are pasture calving and don’t get that luxury. Their saving grace is that they are in one of our “hilliest” pastures and have some protection when Mother Nature gets hormonal.

Fortunately, there were only a handful of calves on Sunday (when I’m writing this) and hopefully the wind will continue to die down, as there is a lot of snow that is going to have to be moved.

All of our older cows (minus the recips in the lot) are in one group right now. As I mentioned before, the cows that were brought home from the North Place are calving now. Usually it’s not a big issue. I’ll go around the pasture once or twice a day and get everything tagged, weighed and banded as needed.

Minus the additional miles of jarring on the ATV, I actually prefer pasture calving to lot calving. From a statistical standpoint my death loss is less in the pasture, I have fewer issues with sickness, and the calves seem to get up and go quicker. If I miss a day of tagging in the lot, it’s no biggie to tag them the next day. Out in the pasture, if I miss a day it’s going to be a race. There are also disadvantages such as covering more miles, not as convenient to check, and the cows seem to be growlier.

Pasture calving has been going pretty smoothly, except for one issue: 3322.

For some reason this coming 8-year-old registered Red Angus cow that is supposed to calve with the next group of calvers starting May 1, has decided it is her life mission to adopt every new calf that comes along whether that pair wants the addition or not. It’s not a friendly adoption. This Bessy is a bully.

The first calf she decided to “adopt” was an embryo transfer calf of my own out of a cow that I flushed last year. I came over the hill and 3322 had this calf completely in her control. The poor calf’s surrogate acted like she was in tears.

With some fancy ATV work and the help of the four-legged terror, we finally got the pair separated off and moved to the pasture to the north where I had started to “pair out” some others. It was wishful thinking that we were done with this lack of judgement.

The next morning I was down making a run around the pasture again and I saw a couple cows off in the distance. Yep, there was 3322 claiming a full sister to the same calf she tried to claim the day before. Her bullying that day was a little more aggressive. Every time the calf’s mom would get close, 3322 would literally chase her off. This time I wasn’t so friendly. In a short amount of time, 3322 was in timeout in the next pasture by herself. Or so I thought.

The next day I was down for yet another pass. I had a calf that I had tagged the previous evening in the furthest southeast corner of this large pasture. It’s a great place to be born but a real bear to get in and out of with anything but an ATV. That morning the little heifer was up next to the fence and while he mom was off grazing, there was 3322 admiring her through the wires. Any move the little heifer made, 3322 followed it intently on the other side.

I finished tagging for the morning and returned that late afternoon to check over things. I got all the way to the far corner of the pasture and there was my brockle face cow, who now seemed to be missing a calf. I started looking through all of the washouts, and nothing.

Finally in my infinite wisdom, I drove through a gate into the next pasture, went over a mile down the fence line, and lo and behold, there in opposite corner of the pasture was 3322 with a nice little brockle face heifer.

I stormed up, grabbed the heifer to take her back to her mom, said a couple choice words to 3322 and traveled the mile back to reunite the pair.

My words must have been effective. Last I heard, she was making a new home with the young cows after she slipped by the Boss Man when feeding.

Tomorrow will be another day – hopefully with a lot less wind, less snow, electricity and 3322 staying exactly where she is supposed to.

Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at jaclyn@flyingdiamondgenetics.com. This column represents the views of one person and are not necessarily the opinion of the Midwest Messenger.   

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Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at jaclyn@flyingdiamondgenetics.com.

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