The heifers are calving right along and we have been blessed with a few days of spring like weather. Last night we got some heavy wet snow.
When we start calving cows our days get crazy busy and the calving book becomes a lifeline. Most ranchers I know keep a calving book; they carry it almost everywhere they go from the start of calving until calf weaning.
We keep two calving books. One stays in the calving box. The box is strapped to the front of J’s 4-wheeler; we keep ear tags, ear tag buttons, the tagger, the calving book and a pencil in it. J keeps a second identical calving book in his shirt pocket.
A calving book has several columns to keep a rancher organized. This is how the calving book works on our operation:
Cow No. –Self explanatory.
Calf No. – We tag our calves in order by birth 1,2,3,4,5 and so on. It’s really important to get the correct cow and calf numbers recorded.
Birth Date – This is the day the calf is tagged. When the cows are calving we tag at least twice a day.
Sex – Bull or Heifer.
Calving Ease Code – In this column we put a check mark when the calf has had it’s at birth shot.
Birth Wt. – This is where we mark down if the calf is a BB = Black Baldly. Unless you are me and prefer to call them BWF = Black White Face.
Remarks – This is where the Rancher keeps his personal notes. He makes comments on such things as:
Pulled – If the calf was pulled. Pulled Tail First or Backwards Calf.
Graft – If the calf was grafted on to another mother.
Twins – Especially if the twins are a bull and heifer. Heifers that are twins to a bull are infertile.
Woofy – The cow has an attitude problem. This also has variants such as extremely woofy or MEAN! These cows are few and far between, but important to note.
Knock Down Calf, Hit Calf, or Kicked Calf – This refers to a cow that knocks down her calf and will not let it suck. In extreme cases J will note Hated Calf- Sell. These are characteristics of an unmotherly cow.
Walked Away – This means the cow calved and walked away from her calf and pretended she did not have a calf. Again, not a very motherly action.
Granny – This is when a cow claims or tries to claim a calf that was not her own. This frequently happens when the “granny” is starting to calf and can cause major confusion.
Suckled Calf – J had to help the calf suck for the first time.
Big Bag – Cow has big teats and/or the calf had a hard time sucking when it was born. Sometimes this goes hand-in-hand with suckled calf.
Red Cow – We have 4 red cows and marking them in the book helps when checking cattle in the summer.
Last year I saw a something new in the calving book, TI. I went through terms I have heard J use and I was not coming up with anything for TI. I asked what it means; Temporary Insanity. This is when the cow has characteristics of senselessness, but gets over it and loves her calf. This foolishness can last from an hour or two up to a day.
If you turn to the last pages of J’s calving book he keeps track of sick calves that have been treated, the date they were treated and what he gave them. Also recorded are any calves that have died and the date. He also starts a list of cows that need to be sold. J keeps track of these notes when it’s fresh on his mind to help jog his memory come fall when we sell cull cows.
J has every calving book since we moved home. During calving season he often checks last year’s book (sometimes past years too) to see if there were any comments made about a cow in question. As you can tell the calving book has a wealth of information important to managing a cattle heard.