Hello to the avid followers of Dinner Starts Here!
We are Elliott & Rebecca and we are new bloggers joining the Dinner Starts Here group. We own and operate a beef cow/calf operation and also grow grain on our farm. We are looking forward to contributing some insight into beef farming and the business of growing grains like corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. We are a family farm that strives to produce the best products we can for the consumers that we market to. We work off the farm at our own respective jobs (in the agriculture industry), but we still play an active role in the daily operation of our family farm.
This time of year we are quite busy in the barn with our beef cows and their newborn calves (babies). It’s an exciting time around our place as calving season quickly unfolds around Christmas time. Our beef farm consists of about 80 beef cows (females) and their calves (babies) and 2 bulls (males). We are currently about 75% done our calving season and look forward to the arrival of a few more baby calves in the next couple of weeks.
We haven’t witnessed many of our calves being born at the actual time they make their grand entrance into the world. Most of the time we get to the barn and they have already been born, licked off by their mother and had a good drink of colostrum (first milk) from their mother. We make sure they are doing well and let the cow bond with her newborn calf using the natural instinct they have to care for their young. The colostrum is extremely important to survival of the newborn calf because it is full of immunoglobulins and other necessary components that act as a natural defense mechanism against harmful bacteria and diseases that they could be exposed to the newborn calf. When calves are born their immune system is suppressed – prior to birth they received all essential nutrients via the mother’s umbilical cord hence why it’s important that they get tasty (to them anyways!) colostrum upon arrival. The colostrum has protective antibodies (immunoglobulins) that are transferred from the cow to the calf when they nurse the first few times. Without colostrum, the calves chance of survival and ability to grow into a big, strong calf is decreased.
A question often asked by people is “how much does a calf weigh when it is born?” The answer – well it varies based on a number of factors, but typically our calves are between 80-100lbs when they are born. A cow can weigh between 1,100-1,400lbs (or more) – so on a scale of proportion a calf weighs approx 8-10% of its mother’s weight when it is born. That seems pretty big when you compare what a human baby weighs when it is born, but it is all relative to the situation. Typically once a calf is born, the mother will lick the placenta (“after birth”) off the calf to dry it off and to help stimulate the calf to try and stand up and start nursing. Sometimes within the first 10 minutes we can watch a newborn calf trying to take its first steps (other times it can be up to 1-2 hours, depending on weather, ease of calving, conditions, etc). After they start to master the art of walking on 4 legs, they will try to start nursing from their mother’s udder to ingest the colostrum. It is a pretty neat process and is something we think everyone should be able to witness. If we are lucky, we might be able to film this process if we witness a birth in the near future – and we will post it to show you what it looks like.
These calves are lying down in a freshly bedded area where they can socialize, rest and play. They have access to their mother’s whenever they want – all they have to do is walk through a small opening in a gate into the rest of the barn (2nd picture shows a small opening in the gate where calves can go in and out)
Here is is a picture of a calf born tonight (calf on the right) and her mother standing behind her.