Fellow Kansas cattle owner, Jennifer Heim, who owns dairies with her husband, David, in Northeast Kansas, recently blogged about naming the animals on their farm. It’s a question she said she receives a lot – as do we – and believes the real issue behind it is people questioning if they really know and differentiate their animals from one another. I believe her assumption is spot on!
As Jennifer explains in her blog post (http://heimdairy.wordpress.com/) people associate farmers and ranchers naming their animals with truly knowing their animals. Without names, do we really care for our animals? Absolutely.
Just like the Heims, all of our animals are assigned numbers. We know our animals by their numbers and, I will admit, some demand more of our attention than others. Ask my husband and he can tell you which are the stubborn cows, easy-going ladies and the ones that just seem to go with the flow. He often has stories of a cow that develops a unique routine or trick. Some manage to find any and all gaps in the fence while others learn the routines of the feed truck – and are always the first to arrive for their morning meals.
Now that calving season has started, knowing our animals – by number or name – is more important that ever. With several mother cows delivering newborns on the same day in the same pasture, it’s essential we know which mothers belong to which calves. We also remember which calves seem to have more trouble than others sucking and getting around – which means we try to pay a little closer attention to those little guys.
My husband can’t remember what I told him an hour ago but he can tell you which heifers delivered calves this week. These calves are our lives and business so knowing their behaviors and schedules helps us better care for them – be it by name or number.