Most ranchers I know keep a calving book. They carry it almost everywhere they go from the start of calving until they wean calves. It is a cowboy’s lifeline.
We keep two calving books. One stays in the calving box. We keep ear tags, ear tag buttons, the tagger, the calving book and a pencil in it. The box strapped to the front of a 4-wheeler at all times. J keeps an identical calving book that is kept 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. – Again self descriptive.
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 write in BWF = Black White Face.
Remarks – This is where J 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.
Woofy – The cow has an attitude problem. This also has variants such as extremely woofy or MEAN! really woofy. These cows are few, but important to note.
Knock Down Calf, Hit Calf, or Kicked Calf – The cow knocks down her calf and will not let the calf suck. Could also be noted as Hated Calf- Sell. These are characteristics of an unmotherly cow.
Walked Away – This means the cow calved and walked away from her calf. Again, not a very motherly action.
Granny – This cow claimed or tried to claim a calf that was not her own.
Suckled Calf – J had to help the calf suck.
Big Bag – Cow has big teats and/or the calf had a hard time sucking when it was born.
Red Cow – We have a few red cows and marking them in the book helps when checking cattle in the summer.
While helping J tag and do barn chores on Saturday morning I saw a something new T.I. This means Temporary Insanity and is when the cow has characteristics of stupidity then gets over it and loves her calf.
If you turn to the last pages of the book J keeps track of 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 keeps a list of cows that need to be sold.
J has every calving book since we moved home. During calving season he often checks last year’s book to see if there were any comments made about the cow in question. As you can tell a calving book has a wealth of information important to managing a cattle heard.