February and March may seem like a cold and gloomy time of the year in Nebraska, but for many farmers and ranchers it’s a time of excitement, little sleep and extra care to welcome the new arrivals on their farm – calves.
Across the country there are two distinct seasons in which the majority of calves will be born. Farmers and ranchers signify them as fall and spring – even though calves can be born any day of the year. For many farmers across the country, the spring calving season is beginning, and we’ll be seeing many new calves in pastures and fields in the next few months.
After awaiting the arrival of the calves for nine months, farmers and ranchers spend extra time checking their cows when calving season arrives. Farmers often check on them multiple times throughout the night and some even set up cameras to watch the cows 24/7.
Much like a nurse, farmers and ranchers are on call to assist their mother cows in giving birth when complications arise. Farmers must take extra care with heifers, female cows that have not given birth before. Also, once the calf has arrived, farmers and ranchers sometimes need to play the role of lactation therapist to teach the calves how to eat and the cows how to nurse to insure calves get a healthy start and have enough to eat.
Occasionally, mother cows are not able to produce enough milk or are lost in the birthing process. If this occurs, farmers and ranchers bottle feed calves until they are able to eat grain and hay.
Despite the extra time and care required during calving season, farmers and ranchers know that the calves they help welcome into the world are worth the late nights and early mornings.
Learn more about Nebraska’s farmers here.
–Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter growing up on a cow/calf and grain farm in Iowa. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, majoring in both animal science and public relations. She has been involved with agriculture from birth, working in multiple facets of the industry including the USDA and Extension. Kassi relocated to Nebraska in 2010 to work for a marketing communications agency for a multitude of agriculture clients.