Got Milk?

Got Milk?

We have had two little calves with milk mustaches in the calving barn so far this calving season. Both of them were twins – though not the same set.

In each, their mamas chose the other sibling and rejected these sweet little faces. But they were awfully cute in our book!

So these little cuties spent a few days at the Red Roof Inn (aka – the calving shed).

The little red heifer and her brother were the first ones born this year at what we call the “round top.”

The mama in the photo above was interested in the little calf, but it wasn’t hers. The photo collage below shows the red calf’s mama and sibling.

When I was talking about the situation in town, someone said that the cow must not be a very good mama. However, she was very protective of the other calf. When I got a little too close, she started pawing the ground. I backed up and used the zoom on my camera.

Eventually, she led the calf away from the annoying human.

We brought her red calf to the calving shed.

It didn’t take long for it to become Randy’s shadow. Being fed is sure to forge friendships, don’t you think?

As a human mom, you can’t imagine loving one baby more than another. But maybe in the animal world, it’s a survival thing. While a mama can successfully nurse two babies, they often choose just one. It does offer more milk to the remaining calf.

We called the Extension Office to offer the calf to a 4-Her at a reduced price. But there were no takers. 

So the little red calf went to the sale barn.

Randy ended up carrying it to a pen. It would have been a long walk otherwise. We hope it went to a 4-H family, but we don’t know.

The day after we took the red calf to the sale barn, another set of twins was born. This time, we brought one of the two black calves back to the calving shed for its gourmet banquet of milk via a bottle.

Randy had planned to take it to the sale barn in Hutchinson, but a neighbor ended up buying it to bottle-feed. By the time the black heifer left the County Line, she was an expert bottle connoisseur.

Randy had trouble getting out the door because it wanted to follow him everywhere.

I’d like to end the story there. Everyone loves a happy ending, after all. But reality doesn’t always have a pretty red bow tying up a beautiful package. Last week, we found the black/white face calf at the round top half eaten by coyotes. Randy isn’t sure whether the calf died and the coyotes drug it off or whether it was attacked by a coyote and killed. Even if we’d still had the red calf, the mother likely wouldn’t have accepted it back again.

And on February 7, we had an expensive day. Randy noticed a cow in the pasture having trouble with calving. Randy tried to pull the calf himself but wasn’t having any luck. He called the veterinarian, who came and pulled the calf, which was dead. Then Dr. Dick discovered it was a twin, which also was dead. Not a good day!

Since I don’t want to end on such a sad note, I’ll show a happier birth.


Life – and yes, death – are part of our farming story. 

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