Calving season The Daily Cowman style

It isn’t just me. Baby calves have a magical power over everyone they come in contact with. There is just something about seeing a healthy baby calf that makes you “Happy Happy Happy” like Si Robertson eating a hot donut (yes, we are a #DuckDynasty obsessed household, PUMPED for the new season). In fact, I’d say the tougher looking the cowboy, the harder they fall for these spronking little wonders of ranch life.

Enter Larry, The Daily Cowman, a rancher near Connell, WA. As you may have figured, Larry is featured in today’s post for his ranchyness, not wifeyness. He’s provided some great images and commentary on how calving season is progressing on his ranch via his blog and Facebook. Good for us, he has added YouTube to his online repertoire, and his debut is what I would consider an over-achievement in video.

If that isn’t dedication to caring for his cattle and providing an unfiltered look at ranch practices, I’m not sure what is! ANY QUESTIONS? No really, if you have a question about what Larry just did or why, leave it in the comments below!

To recap: The Daily Cowman just tagged a new baby calf, and avoided the potential wrath of an instinctively protective mother cow, while producing an educational video in one take. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Ben Affleck!

Dozens of calves have been born without incident this season on Larry’s ranch. His favorite cow was no exception. Larry’s Facebook update on February 26, 2013:

"My favorite cow calved today. #9158 gave my gut a little bovine headbutt but I am fine. I did however lose a 69 cent burrito to pukeage."

“My favorite cow calved today. #9158 gave my gut a little bovine headbutt but I am fine. I did however lose a 69 cent burrito to pukeage.”

I think we can agree, a good mother is willing to do anything to protect their baby from threats – real and perceived. In this case, #9158 perceived a threat and relieved Larry of his worst choice of the day – “a 69 cent burrito”, making this mother cow vs. rancher bout a surprising tie. Knowing Larry, I’d expect nothing less than this kind of fiest  from his chosen favorite cow.

On occasion, a mother cow (usually a first-calf heifer) rejects or ignores their newborn, which requires the rancher to help the mothering instinct kick in. Even though the majority of births on the ranch occur unassisted, and nature (hormones) works to make mother cows bond with and begin caring for their calf, in the cases where this does not happen, minutes and hours matter. This is why ranchers are busy out checking their herds, as often in the day as necessary to ensure their calf crop a healthy start. Weather be damned, and even more so when it sucks, farmers and ranchers are out there with their cows and calves.

The other interesting calving narrative on Larry’s ranch is the mother-calf lookalike contest. Check out the pics.

February 17th: "The competition for favorite bull calf of 2013 just got stepped up a notch! Welcome to the world 3154."

Feb. 17: “The competition for favorite bull calf of 2013 just got stepped up a notch! Welcome to the world 3154.”

"It must be "try to look like your momma" week. Welcome to the world 3489"

Feb. 18: “It must be ‘try to look like your momma’ week. Welcome to the world 3489”

"Look like your momma week marches on. Check out this little lady with her momma."

Feb. 20:”Look like your momma week marches on. Check out this little lady with her momma.”

The root of Larry’s love of his cows and baby calves is pretty easy to trace. At the end of the day, he’s a husband to a wife and a father to a daughter who help him make their ranch go, day in and day out. When it comes to cattlemen, 99.9% of the time, a tough-looking exterior gives way to a gooey Cadbury center, and Larry is no exception!

Larry and two of his ranch hands: daughter Dakota and his dog Festus

Larry and two of his ranch hands: daughter Dakota and his dog Festus

4 thoughts on “Calving season The Daily Cowman style

  1. So “heifer” is the technical term for a cow that hasn’t given birth? Is there a special word for a cow that has?

    • Dude, I can’t decide whether to be excited that the blog prompted a reasonable question about beef production from a non-farmer/rancher or if I feel ashamed that you’ve known me for so many years and do not know more about bovine nomenclature. The former makes me a success, the latter makes me fired. I’ll go with the former! For this very reason, I do plan on adding a “beef glossary” page I just haven’t gotten around to adding it yet. In the meantime, the answer to your questions:Yes, and yes-ish. See below:

      Cow = An individual female bovine animal that has produced a calf
      Heifer = A young female bovine that has not produced its first calf
      Bull = Bovine male usually of breeding age
      Steer = Bovine male castrated as a calf for better meat production
      Calf = A young, sexually immature bovine animal

      Thanks for reading and asking Auntie Em!

      • Ah, well this explains why they don’t call married and/or older women heifers! I guess I just always assumed heifer was a synonym for cow. I do feel kinda bad for cows — they don’t get nearly as fun a name!

        I didn’t know about the difference between bull and steer either. Which leads to another question: Is there a standard percentage of bulls that you want in order to keep a herd (is that the proper terminology?) going? That is, do you generally want x% of your males to be bulls, and make the rest steers?

      • Exactly. I can’t wait until you join me in “Cow-dom”, ya Heifer.

        Another excellent question! This is where it’s not as straightforward as it is in the spreadsheet in your head. On the Bar U, ALL of the bull calves are castrated to become steers, and leave the ranch to be marketed for beef. Many of the heifers are on the same trajectory, but some will stay here, to replace old cows that are unfit to breed again. Therein lies the issue with keeping bull calves and turning them into breeding stock on our ranch…If a cow has a bull calf, and then that bull is in charge of breeding around here, you’re gonna have inbreeding. No bueno for obvious herd health and genetics reasons. So, the genetics on this ranch have been built over time through the cows, and bulls are sourced from other ranchers based on their genetic traits. We know quite a few ranchers in Washington that produce breeding stock to sell/auction to other ranchers. Check out these sites: Trinity Farms, Ellensburg http://www.trinityfarms.info and Rathbun Angus Ranch, Moses Lake http://www.rathbunangus.com if you want to know more about breeding bulls (Cows can also be purchased from breeders based on desired genetic traits). Bulls can also be bypassed all together in favor of purchasing harvested semen. On these ranches, cows are bred each year through artificial insemination (A.I.). Fun fact – Andy went to a training school for A.I. and owns a semen tank (for storage until use) he bought off Craigslist. He’s bred cows at the farm, it’s kind of a hobby of his.

        Ok, I’ll stop before it gets too weird. But I hope that answered your question!

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