Monday, December 13, 2010

Our first calf

Bluestem Abe, British White Park, with mother and friend
Most of our neighbors make 2 a.m. rounds in the snow and ice to check for "Spring" calves in January and February.  We had our first baby on the ground at the end of April, 2010.  Here Mary was looking a little worn out, but Molly, our herd matriarch kept close by to attend to the new mom.  Molly's calf was born three weeks later.

In a grass-fed operation, the experts say to time calving with the local deer fawning season; that's June around here.  The idea is to keep calves with their mothers through the cold of winter and wean them onto fresh grass in the spring for the least stress and best growth on the calves.  The cows then get three months of high-protein forage to finish growing their next calf before starting the process over again.

Bluestem Abe and Mary
If left on their own, the cows would probably kick their old calves off of the utter a month or more before the next one arrives, but the extra recovery time helps cows regain their condition for better long-term health.  The key to any organic system is to keep the herd healthy in the first place.

And really, don't they look happy together?

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