We have 12 breeding cows, Tim (our bull) was put in with them from June until September last year. A cow is pregnant for approximately 253 days (give or take a few days!) so this years calves were due at the end of March just as lambing finished. We usually bring them down to a field close to the house a week or two before so we can keep an extra eye on them. Sadly we went out to check them one morning 3 weeks before they were due to find a dead perfectly formed calf born to one of the heifers…..apparently this can happen and is just one of those things. The heifer was fine however it did prompt us to bring them closer to the house a bit earlier.
Fortunately the remaining 11 cows calved themselves with no problem at all and we now have 11 beautiful healthy calves, 6 bull calves and 5 girls. We were slightly concerned on how the heifers would cope as it was the first time for them but they managed with a few hiccups!! Elle (named after Elle MacPherson as all legs and gorgeous) was absolutely shocked rigid at the arrival of her calf. The birth was fine, Elle stood up to look behind her and see what had happened and just didn’t know what to do. She stared and stared, went up and sniffed and when the calf moved she jumped backwards in horror!! We were a little worried at this point but after a little while Elle settled down, started licking the calf and nature took its course.
All the cows are very interested when one goes into labour, they all go and have a look and offer advice! So much for wandering off to a quiet spot which is what they are supposed to do!
A couple of the other heifers were obsessed with their offspring for a couple of days, wouldn’t let them move more than a few inches away without calling them or nuzzling them. They were also very very defensive when we were around which we have not experienced with any of the other cows.
All has settled down now, cows and calves are happy together and for us to be around. One of the lovely things we have noticed before is that the cows operate as a team whilst looking after the calves, quite often all the calves will be in a group with one cow in the middle, the cows seem to take it turns whilst the others graze.