A Cowboy’s Faith: Cows give motherly love – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Cows give motherly love

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Mothering instinct of cows is important to profitability in the cattle business.

That point has always been known and previously been elaborated. Reminder about significance of a cow taking care of her calf was brought to attention again by a reader.

Awareness of just how natural mothering ability varies among different cows became apparent when a cow gave birth to twins. The subject of twinning cattle is quite complex, yet it does generally reveal a cow’s dedication for her newborn.

Most cows are very good mothers. When they give birth, immediate attention is given to caring for her little one.

With motherly nuzzling, the baby is brought to alertness and before long just naturally finds its point of nourishment. Momma knows exactly where her calf is and what it’s doing such the cow manager must keep a distance.

As calves grow, there is more freedom, but momma still knows where her calf is supposed to be. When it’s mealtime, they automatically get together and if the baby isn’t where last known there is alarm.

A cow will go searching for her young, which does create an issue when an owner weans the calf. It’s several days before a good momma gives up searching for her missing young.

Cows that don’t possess natural mothering ability are costly to a cattleman and are soon marketed.

At the onset, cows giving birth to twins seem like the perfect way to double the income. But cattlemen soon realize twins are typically more trouble than money.

Certain cattle breeds are more prone to have twins. Producing twins is harder on a cow’s reproductive system, and there is a higher death rate of twin calves.

When a cow births twins, she often doesn’t realize she’s supposed to take care of two babies. One of the babies doesn’t get the attention required unless the cattlemen is there to assist.

Statistically half the twin births are mixed sex, and most are infertile, although heifers sometimes become producing cows. Typically, a bull calf is made into a steer.

Cowherd profit increases faster with cows who take care of one calf than those who have twins.

Reminded of Genesis 33:13: “You know, my lord, that babies are frail and need gentle care.”

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

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