Due to the ongoing drought, we were forced to welcome calves back to the farm sooner than usual. A crop of steer (boy) and heifer (girl) calves made their way to the farm this past week and are settling in to their winter home.
In addition to their relocation, the calves are also learning to live without their mothers for the first time. Consider it the going-to-college experience for cattle. Thankfully our calves took the change like champions! We had about two nights of bawling and now all is quiet on the farm. Food is vital for a smooth transition from mother to the bunk. We feed our new calves – which weigh just shy of 500 pounds right now – a ration of dry distillers grain for protein and hay for carbohydrates. They have alfalfa to snack on between meals. Like children, it’s important to smoothly transition our animals from one type of food to another. You wouldn’t feed a four month old a hamburger and you wouldn’t feed a 500 pound calf corn silage. That will come in time.
For now, the calves are getting used to each other and their new home. We check them two to three times a day in case one is showing signs of sickness or injury. They will grow and fatten over the winter months and in early 2013, the male calves will head to the feedlot. The female calves will be feed for another year before they become mothers – or cows.