A Cowboy’s Faith:Heifers require more attention – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith:Heifers require more attention

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Nine months, nine days, nine hours, nine minutes since those calving-ease bulls were turned out with the yearling heifers.” Lush tender green grass, sun-shining warm spring day, there was some instant romance.

A couple heifers beat the scientific gestation calendar with frolicking newborn babies trailing behind, unsure what’s really happened.

Remainders of the coming-two-year-old mommas-to-be have been rounded up from winter pasture and trailered to ranch headquarters. They initially don’t like corral confinement with hay bales in a feeder and water from the well, but soon acclimate.

Those in town have no realization how much attention and tender loving care required for bovine having their first calves. That’s the reason heifers are brought out of big natural surroundings near birthing date to get personal rancher attention.

It’s actually a 24-hours-a-day job at calving time and bigger operations hire a fulltime employee just to care for heifers.

Unlike humans, cattle can’t talk and tell their owners it feels like a newborn will be coming in short order. So, cow-calf managers must be on the ball all of the time to provide assistance if it is needed.

True heart-and-soul cowmen with years of experience can generally tell when a beef female is near calving. However, Mother Nature sometimes plays tricks and a calf will come before expected.

While it’s possible to watch the heifer pen at all times, they’re just checked every three hours during the night. Getting up from under warm bed sheets to go out in freezing temperatures is tough on the best cowmen. Even harder for this ranch’s cow manager who lives down the road and must drive to headquarters for eyeballing heifers.

Everything imaginable and more can happen when heifers start calving. Many times, there are no problems whatsoever as the calf is born, standing, drinking warm momma milk and running around.

But when the calf is too big, coming backwards, or other female glitches occur, human assistance is required. Likewise, the heifer must become a momma instantly caring for newborn or a whole set of additional issues arise.

There’ll be pairs with heat lamps in the barn, calves on the kitchen floor, and more before calving finishes.

Goal is always 100 percent calf crop, but that really doesn’t happen very often.

Reminded of Deuteronomy 30:9: “You’ll have new baby calves and enjoy an all-around good life.”


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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