Calving 2018 is well under way here at Eliason Livestock! The few weeks before we start calving, I get all sorts of excited and just long for those cute, cuddly babies to be born. There is just something so exciting about new babies! Everything from their wispy tails to their soft noses to their wobbly legs screams “SNUGGLE ME!”
Of course their mommas are sitting behind them, snorting up a storm saying, “Get back before I eat you alive!”
Its not really like that. Too often at least. And in some regards, we like it when mommas are protective. Its their instincts teaching them how to mother and protect their calves. Them being a little feisty is better than them ignoring their calves completely!
For the longest time, we thought that we would be calving in the most ideal weather. January couldn’t’ have been more perfect- warm (ish… for Idaho at least), no wind, no rain or snow… But good things never last, especially when it comes to weather. Within a week of our first calf hitting the ground, we’ve had storms roll in, temperatures hit the single digits, and the wind blowing like it was going out of style.
So what do we do for the cold?
The Rancher takes a lot of time to prepare the pen that the heifers calve in. The pen itself is on a large hill which is so great for naturally protecting mommas and babies from the wind. On top of that, the guys push the dirt and poop around to make hills for additional wind breaks. Right up against the breaks and in a few other places throughout the pen, they put out straw for a dry warm place to snuggle down into. Then to top it all off, we have a few calf sheds that are a perfect nursery to keep the calves warm and dry.
So long as it is dry, we can do a darn good job at keeping the calves warm. We only really have to worry about them getting cold in the first few hours after birth. Naturally, those babies are wet when they come out. So naturally, they are going to get cold. Of course, their mommas help them get warm as they clean them up. A belly of warm milk goes a long way too, to getting warm from the inside out.
Once in a while, those things just aren’t enough to keep a baby warm. So we go in and scoop that baby up to bring it into the warmer. Its amazing how just a few hours in the warmer can perk a calf right up!
Calving in the winter is hard but we hope for the best and plan for the worst. Instead of waiting for the bad to happen, we try to be prepared and proactive to give our calves the best chance possible. And then we watch and hope and pray that we can make up the difference when it just isn’t enough.