As calving season draws to an end, the weather starts to warm back up. The trees begin to blossom, the flowers start to bloom, the grass begins to green back up, and the baby calves grow like weeds. This time of the year is magical; a hard winter’s worth of work is displayed in the bucking and playing around of a healthy, ever-growing calf.
For those of you who are new to cattle, calving season is the time of the year when momma cows give birth to baby calves. In cattle ranching, breeding season covers all of the cows in your herd, this way, everything gives birth within the same three month period. Sometimes, operations utilize artificial insemination to streamline genetics and to insure breeding efficiency. This also ensures similar calving dates from cow to cow. It is our most important time of the year in ranching. It is our job, as stewards of the land and livestock, to ensure that each calf is born healthy and in the most humane way possible. Our duties range all the way from feeding to helping a momma cow give birth. The most satisfying and rewarding feeling in the world is knowing you took part in providing a safe environment and meeting the needs of each and every newborn baby calf on the ranch. There is nothing more important to us than ensuring the safety of each and every pair (momma and baby) on our place.
This month, we were faced with the prospect of a late-spring storm. Though the calves are growing and very healthy, storms can pose a risk to their health. With blowing snow, cold temperatures, and high winds, we can see disease and sickness flair up as a result of the storm. To prepare, we draw pairs into a well-protected area within one of our pastures that provides significant protection from the elements. We do this by ringing the dinner bell (very similar to how i get my Husband’s attention)! We continually feed heavy amounts to the cows in the area which we want them to weather the storm. This helps the cows to maintain good body condition while also giving her calf the nutrition it needs to survive the cold conditions. We know how to efficiently and effectively prepare for a large winter storm , but these storms don’t compare to the storms we face in negative media and bad publicity.
Agriculture, within the last twenty years, has come under fire for inhumane treatment of animals, antibiotic and hormone use, GMOs, and many other points of misinformation. This has caused an influx of viral videos displaying acts of cruelty towards animals and extremely negative coverage from the media. Unfortunately, shocking news stories with horrifying videos draw far more media attention than all of the sacrifices producers make for the well-being of their livestock. What is so disheartening about this is that 99.9% of our industry is not this way. Almost all farmers and ranchers take wonderful care of their livestock and do everything they can to ensure the well-being of the animal. We have to take good care of our livestock, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is the only way to maintain our way of life. There is an old saying in our industry, “if you take care of that cow, she’ll take care of you.” We live by these words. How can you expect to be a successful steward if you don’t fulfill the most important duty of all: caring for your land and livestock. Farmers and ranchers love what they do, or they wouldn’t be doing it. It is such a fulfilling and honorable way of life; that is why it saddens me greatly to see people criminalize the industry.
Through creating this blog and writing weekly posts about our industry, I hope that I can raise awareness for Agriculture and bridge the gap between consumer and producer. I want to show all of the readers that farmers and ranchers are wonderful, hard-working people with a deeply instilled responsibility and hunger to care for land and livestock. The men, women, families, and wonderful people who define this industry, deserve to be recognized for their can-do attitude and dedication to feeding this wonderful nation and the world. It is important to know where your food comes from; and I intend to help you discover that. Now that we have weathered the late-spring storm, we now are responsible for weathering the storm of bringing awareness to the consumer. It is our responsibility and duty to do so.