A Cowboy’s Faith: Calving by nature’s plan

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Mother Nature does exactly what she wants.”

Cows work just like her. When momma decides to give birth she’ll do it, or do her best trying. Contrarily it’s almost impossible to predict when that’ll be despite telltale signs often turning out differently.

First of February is sometimes considered beginning of spring calving season, although ranches have varying philosophical datelines. Certain operations set later times to begin, and some producers calve in the fall, summer and even summer.

Not nearly as many as used to be, but several cow-calf managers have babies arriving year around. It’s determined when the bull is turned into the cowherd.

Everything being just right, cow is romanced by the bull that day maybe even within minutes fertile embryo starts growing. A baby calf should be on the ground nine months, nine days, nine hours, nine minutes, nine seconds later. It’s seldom exactly that precise and often not even close.

Uncountable tribulations can come into play in this mating game. At the beginning of the season, Mr. Bull is eager and ready to go. Certain sweet, fancy, foxy, young heifers on high nutrition feel the same anticipating action.

More mature mommas, baby at side taking breakfast, generally aren’t so fast. By nature’s intent, inner body parts need a bit of rest, relaxing, healing before starting the process again.

Yet, cows often have two calves in less than two years. Certain prolific dams may even birth a handful of babies in about four years.

Managers generally take the bull out before the first calf arrives so cows don’t get bred back to calve that often. Old-timers sometimes still leave the bull with their cows year around, thus calves might arrive anytime.

Intrusions can come into well planned breeding “perfect” programs, broadly including infections, poor quality low-gaining feedstuffs, and abortions without scientific reason. Any of these affect when momma will calve.

Still, when the time comes, live calf up and drinking first milk is far from a given. Yes, a healthy, well-fleshed, mid-age cow typically has no problems.

Yet, the unborn could be in her backwards, legs back, or other incorrect variations. Often, with man’s assistance, calf can still arrive safely.

Reminded of Psalm 65:8: “Nature is sign of Your presence. You make the places where morning and evening births to shout for joy.”


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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