Calving Hours

During the past week, my husband seems to have adopted new sleeping habits – those I would compare to that of a newborn. He’s asleep by 8 p.m., up at various times throughout the night and napping throughout the day. (Did I mention he’s spent most of his Friday and Saturday night napping in his recliner?) But I shouldn’t be so hard on him, with calving season now underway on the Sawyer farm, he’s has the added responsibility of the night shift and most nights his “checks” have turned into four-hour babysitting sessions.

As I explained in my previous post, our heifers started calving last weekend and have continued delivering new calves all week. Thus far, we have welcomed about 20 new faces to the farm. Some have come during the daylight hours but an equal amount have chosen the cold, windy hours of the night to make their grand entrance. While most mothers have delivered their young without assistance or complications, a few have required help and the watchful eye of my husband and his father.

Derek begins the night shift about 10 p.m. and most nights has spent four to five hours at our cattle facilities watching and helping the new mothers and welcoming calves to the world. It would be easy to call it a night about 10 p.m. and assume everything will work itself out but saving only one baby calf makes the long nights, and even longer days, worth it.

A baby bull calf sits wrapped in a blanket in the heat and comfort of our farm storage room. Derek found this little guy during one of his midnight checks. After a few minutes inside, he was able to return to his mother.
A baby bull calf sits wrapped in a blanket in the warmth and comfort of our farm storage room. Derek found this little guy during one of his midnight checks. After a few hours inside, he was able to return to his mother.

Last night Derek found two new mothers and two new baby calves. The problem was both mothers were claiming the same calf as their own. That left one little guy without a mother and her much-needed attention. Derek carried the calf to our storage room where he let him rest and warm up. While he was warming, Derek moved the mother to a pen so that she could be reunited with her calf and, hopefully, allow him to suck. The reunion was successful and this morning mother and son were doing just fine.

Tonight Derek returned home for dinner and a cat nap after two hours of helping a mother deliver a calf that was set to come backwards. Once again, without his watchful eye and assistance, that calf would have likely not made it.

I know Derek and his father have many long, cold nights of calving ahead of them and as much as I don’t enjoy my husband’s late-night comings and goings, I see pictures like this and watch the baby calves playing and growing and know it’s an essential part of raising happy, healthy animals and being a successful cattle owner.

2 thoughts on “Calving Hours

  1. Yes, no matter the number of calving season under your belt adjusting to two hour naps between checks is hard. We calve during the cold months also. We are bless to have indoor calving pens. So we towel off all newborns. A few need the cattle blower w/heat setting or use hair dryer. The best thing I started is purchasing an XXXL dog coat (big as you can get for largest dog). We put it on them first 24 hours. That way mom can lick away but the calf has extra warmth.

    1. I love the idea of the dog coats and will have to go in search of a few. We have several blanks and are able to pull mom and baby indoors when necessary. And I too have used the hair blow dryer to help a new, cold and wet calf warm up and get his strength back. It does always amaze me how quickly the calves are up and running, playing and enjoying their time in the sun.

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