A Cowboy’s Faith: Cows must have calves

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“They’ll either have a calf or they won’t.”

One of the very best, most prominently known cowmen answered years ago when questioned about pregnancy checking his cowherd.

That philosophy contrasted management recommendations promoted by college cattle experts. Yet, Andy’s analysis had lifetime experience.

“Even when cows are examined ‘safe,’ a lot of things can happen before they have a calf come spring.”

Of course, observant cowboys can generally “tell by looking” if a cow’s bred. Likewise, seeing abortion evidence ahead of calving date is telltale no calf at weaning time. With exceptions, cows continually seeking bull romance aren’t “in calf,” either.

Often reflecting that good friend’s admirable ranch work from every angle, Andy has come to mind frequently in recent weeks. The most conscientiously observant ranch foreman has seen a number of cows “cycling.”

No, the cows were not checked for pregnancy in the fall for various right or wrong reasons. Perhaps, it’s because “they’ll either have a calf or they won’t.”

Anywhere, with fair certainly, a couple dozen mommas who keep “intimately nosing around” herd mates won’t drop spring babies.

“Why not?” one asks. Again, could be any number of reasons, but seemingly the bull didn’t do his job.

“Bad bull,” not in the sense of mean, but he was evidently infertile.

Typically smart to put a backup sire in for such cases. Of course, he might not work either. Then there’s sometimes a power play of one bull trying to best the other, fighting, and nothing gets done.

Anyway, what’s a cowman to do with a cow that’s not going to return a profit this year?

“Oh, turn the bull in now so she’ll have a fall calf,” some suggest. Others shrug, “Just keep her, she’ll have one next spring, or when she gets ready.”

Whatever – a cow not carrying calf to produce a receipt is not economically smart. So, better sell her and stop the feed bill.

That leaves grass space empty, unless something replaces her. With a “closed herd,” no outside females brought in for extended time, another dilemma arises. One overlooked this time.

The “opens” are sold and replaced with heavy “springers.” That helps keep the banker satisfied.

Reminded of Second Timothy 2:6: “It is the hardworking stockman who labors to produce who will be partaker of the young.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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