Cold weather calving

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Every winter we have some weather that’s tough for calving due to snow, ice and cold. During the past month we’ve had our share. In one of my news articles I’d written about the economic value of saving those calves that had the misfortune of being dropped on a 0° F or lower night in a snow bank. Feeder calf prices hold great promise for this fall so a saved calf could be $800 later on.

One fellow took the time to email me the trials and tribulations at his place in early February. I will share some of his experiences.

“We now have 8 out of 8 live babies so far with 5 out of first-calf heifers. One spent 3 days in the house and another spent last night. When my wife and son got home from school they found him stretched out on his side, not responsive at all. They took him to the house. When I got home from work my wife had him by the fireplace rubbing him especially his ears and kept him upright. I drenched him with colostrum and electrolytes, gave him a shot of B vitamins and a long term dosage of antibiotic.

Last night at 11:30 he was a little brighter eyed and had walked a little. We drenched him again with electrolytes. This morning his eyes were normal. We went to do chores and his momma was right where we had found the calf so we went to the house, got the baby and took him to her. He perked up and began nursing for at least 30 minutes. He is back in the house this afternoon. He will go back out this evening to nurse and spend the night in the house probably until the weather changes a bit.

Some may think we’re nuts for bringing calves in the house, but when the wind is blowing and it’s below zero, I prefer checking him in my pajamas. My wife and kids understand completely and my wife not only gives it her blessing, but is instrumental in taking care of them.”

Now who says farmers aren’t caring and compassionate people. I hear a lot of stories like this. Sure, there’s an economic incentive, but they are mostly caring folks who don’t like to see their animals suffer.

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Laramie, wy  |  February, 24, 2011 at 06:12 PM

Looking after a calf born in middle of winter makes good sense but what does not make good sense either as an animal welfare issue or an economic issue is breeding to have calves that come in anything but warm weather.

Gloria Stroud    
Louisburg Mo  |  March, 02, 2011 at 11:35 AM

We just had a snow storm with 18 to 20 inches of snow, we also have had 25 new babies. We lived in Wy and Nebraska so we were very used to snow and cold. We have a barn with 6 stalls in it and we had them full for over a week, we bed the new babies in deep straw and they do just fine that way. When they are a couple of days old and have nursed and dried off we put them out in a pasture with a creep shed bedded with deep straw, it only takes a couple of hours for them to find a warm place to bed down. The first 6 calves were embryo calves we raise for a purebred breeder and they all are doing just fine. My husband makes a little cave out of round bales in our hay barn for the babies to go into, the hay barn is fenced off and a 6 foot wide entrance from the pasture goes into the cave and it is usually full of calves.

michigan  |  March, 03, 2011 at 08:30 AM

Mike Smith - We start calving "Early" for breeding stock and also during the spring we are not home a lot on account we are planting field crops....In February we are home and can watch the animals a lot closer. This could explain why some farmers calve in the "Cold" Months

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