It’s that time of year again. Calving season. Inevitably we always end up with a bottle calf or two. It’s actually a good thing because if we have a calf die (it does happen, no matter what), we can give the Mama cow a new baby, thus keeping that cow productive (that is her only job on the Ranch, to raise a healthy baby calf). If you want to know more about calf grafting please read this blog I wrote about it last year.
In this calf’s case, she was born a twin. Typically with commercial beef cattle, you tend not to let them raise twins. If we had a nice little dairy barn and a lot of extra time to play with the cow and twins, we might consider it, but in this case we like having a replacement calf. Because this heifer is a twin with a bull calf, there is about an 90% chance she will be a freemartin. A freemartin means she will never be able to conceive a calf – for more Ranch terms check out this blog.
This baby was born yesterday and did spend time with her Mama, meaning she got to suck some colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk expressed my the Mama cow, the milk is high in antibodies that will protect the calf. Since she was still under 24 hours old when I got her, I decided to give her another little shot of it. We want healthy babies on this ranch! Healthy babies equal a healthy, happy herd!
I’m very careful to heat the colostrum on the oven, so I can make sure it doesn’t get too hot and pasteurize itself. Also I don’t want to burn the little baby!
Growing up here on the ranch, it was often my job to care for the bottle babies and the sick pen. I got really good at doctoring dehydrated calves and teaching the new ones to suck. It is one of my favorite jobs on the ranch because calves are stinking cute and I love to make things feel better. In fact, I got so good at bottle babies one of mine ended up getting reserve grand champion at our local fair, something “they” said couldn’t be done.
I have this new baby for a while, until my Dad needs a replacement. What should I name her? If you are a local and I select your name as her name, I’ll give you a pound of our grassfinished hamburger (it’s so good grilled for burgers!). What do you think???