Are Calves Taken From Their Mothers?

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Two years ago we had a day where almost all of our calves were born within hours of each other. We had both males and females. Sadly, a few were premature. A couple of our cows were having some trouble pushing their calf out. So the farmer stepped in to help. Little did we know she was having issues pushing. This calf that the farmer helped pull out was the firstborn.

Once the calves are born, the mother is always cleaning the calf off. Some of our mamas didn’t either want the calf near her or whatever the reason is. In this case, the calf is either in the maternity pen or taken there and we bottle-feed feed. Once everyone was dried off and had their first meal (colostrum) the calves were taken to our calf barn and our cows walked across our yard to the barn.

One thing I would like to note is that we always try to be there every step of the way. We always want the mama to be able to witness how we need to help our girls, make sure the calves are okay, and even get to love on them. This is very important. ALL too often I hear people say that the cows charge people to protect their calves. This is not true. If that were the case then this would be a dangerous situation for us adults and especially children! You can clearly see from the pictures that our girls are very comfortable with us, they trust us and they allow us to love their babies. 

What do we do with the calves once they are separated from their mothers?

We take the calves to a calf pen. The pen is what we call the fence between mamas and calves. This is how we fully wean the mamas plus the calves.

We keep the yearlings for 1-2 months (maybe more) in a separate fenced-off area. We like to watch them closely to make sure they are healthy! What do we feed them and how much do they get? They get a 5-gallon bucket per feed bunk of a mixture between corn, grain, and molasses (otherwise called “sweet feed”). As we are weaning we let the mamas get hard and dry up. That way they can be at full capacity with their next calf. Once we know the heifers are staying we move them with the others to the grass pasture, after fully weaned. They are then transferred to another group pen where they are continued to be fed grass and hay. At about 1.2 years depending on the time of year, they are then transferred to a pasture area.

Once they are around 15 months old we move them to another pasture. This is when they are introduced to a bull. As you can tell we have Herefords, Angus, Simmental, and Simmental/Angus cross. We breed all our heifers with an Angus or Simmental bull to ensure they do not have too big of a calf when they calve for the first time.

Once the heifers are put with the bull we typically expect a calf anywhere from 10-12 months later. As long as they are healthy, fed good feed, and have plenty of access to vitamins and minerals they will breed within that time frame.

I would like to add that yes, our cows give birth yearly. But I would also like to add that they would still give birth once a year if they were released into the “wild”. They would still ovulate & a bull would still breed them. I would also like to point out that cows and women are much the same. Sometimes you see a mother nursing a newborn baby and sometimes you see a mother nursing a five-year-old. Sometimes mothers have an abundance of milk, sometimes they have hardly any, and sometimes they do not produce milk for as long as they would like. Cows are very similar. Most cows need to have a calf every year to continue to produce milk. However, there are situations where cows will be milking for longer periods without becoming or needing to become pregnant to continue producing milk. We have had situations where the cow milked for a year without being bred but still continued to produce enough milk to feed other babies.

Now because we use bulls, we have no control over if there is a bull or heifer born. All our bulls are raised within our community or on our farm. You can read more about our bull calves here.

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