Minka Farm News

  • The farm store will be open on Saturday from 10am – 2pm
  • There is still available beef for sale by the quarter or side for the June 1st delivery
  • There are a few remaining Beef CSA shares – see our CSA page for more details

Minka Farm Story: Calf Confusion

Within the last week, seven calves have been born on the farm.  On one of those day, there were three new additions to the herd and two very confused momma cows.

We check our cows every day for signs of health problems, to check hay/grass supply and to be sure no one has escaped or gone on walk-about.  During calving season, we walk through the entire pasture twice a day to look for new calves or moms having birthing problems.  The best time to catch a calf is when they are pretty new to this world.  Once they find their legs, they are fast and very difficult to catch.  We catch them so we can check them out for problems and give them an ear tag so we can tell who’s who. Each farm uses its own system to number their cattle, but the reasons are the same: identification aids in health care and breeding decisions.  In this story, there are four players: X2 (a momma cow), B54 (another momma cow), E104 (a new calf) and E106 (another new calf).

Meet E104 & X2

When it was time for cattle chores, Laura and I started out by feeding hay and scanning the field for calf activity.  There was a momma cow on the far side of the field who looked to be in labor; so, after we finished feeding, we headed that way.  Sure enough, X2 was in labor.  Nearby, though, we found a new calf sleeping in the trees.  We went to tag the calf – a girl – and when she vocally protested being bothered, X2 rushed over.  We tagged the new E104 and made a note that it was X2’s calf.  But X2 was clearly still in labor and very soon, we could see the little feet of a new calf heading into the world.  Twins?!  Not common and generally not good.  Cow twins rarely make it into the world both alive, let alone making it to adulthood.  Plus, E104 was a normal-sized calf and twins are almost always smaller than normal.  We were very confused.

E106 Arrives

X2 decided that she didn’t like our close proximity so she got E104 up and they moved into the trees.  We kept our distance, but we also kept watching.  It didn’t take long before there was a new calf on the ground.  Laura and I checked the calf out, another girl, even bigger than E104, and tagged her as E106.  She was born right up against E104, who had laid down again in the trees.  It certainly appeared that X2 had successfully carried and birthed two very normally sized female calves.  WOW!

 

B54 Enters the Picture

X2 and E106 – correctly paired

Suddenly, we heard the call of a momma cow looking for her baby.  B54 came rushing up the hill and was clearly searching for her calf.  First she checked the hollow where we had found E104 and then continued to search the nearby trees and field: when a calf lays down in the trees or grass, they can be very difficult to see and new calves aren’t always good at listening to their mothers when called (sounds familiar to any parent!)  Laura and I looked at each other – could it be?  We got E104 up and moved her out into the field.  One of us had to go get B54’s attention – she was a bit frantic by now and had called the herd to help her find her baby – but when B54 saw E104, it was clear that this calf actually belonged to B54.  Momma calmed down, baby started nursing and peace returned to the pasture.

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