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Calving season improved after a sad start

Eppich News: Extra attention was needed to get cattle through a cold February

February was cold! Temperatures were frigid and the wind was terrible. On Feb. 17 we bedded our corrals and sorted off our heifers to keep them up front where we could keep an eye on them. It was a good thing but for a different reason than we had in mind. On Feb.19 we doctored a heifer for foot rot. She cleared right up thanks to the quick treatment.

On Feb. 22 we made sure everyone was fed and happy, and then braved the cold and went to Maidstone to the Standard Hill Connection bull sale. We purchased a nice yearling Red Angus bull from Brennan Schachtel. Our Black Angus bull is turning seven this year and we hope to use him for as long as we can, but thought it wise to have a backup just in case we have issues, and to eventually replace our Fat Freddy.

Over several days we got our calving facility back to working order. Gregory and John built an extension to our lean-to so that we could have more sheltered space for the newborn calves. We bedded everything heavily and made sure that all the animals had good access to feed throughout the cold spell.

It was so cold and the heifers were getting close to calving so we started checking them at night. One of us was out every hour. A second-calf heifer was very close and we kept close watch on her. All our work seemed to be in vain because when we got back from church one day she had delivered a nice red bull calf but he was dead. She was being a good mother and had him all cleaned off and was gently calling him. Our best guess is that he may have been veiled and she didn’t get his head cleaned off in time. We did all that we could do, but calving season was definitely off to a bad start.

Still cold, but better

We got a chance to get calving season started on the right path on Mar. 5. Another second-calf heifer calved a red white-faced bull calf. This was the first live calf out of our Ward Red Angus bull we purchased last spring. It was still -18 C and even though the heifer was doing a wonderful job licking him off, we decided to help her and dried the calf’s ears and head off with a towel. He was up and nursing soon after.

After that our mature cows started calving. They were due to start on March 10 but one arrived on the 7th and then the second on the 10th. Ever so slowly it started to warm up. The nights would still be chilly but the daytime temperature was between -15 and -10 C, a big improvement from where we were.

On March 8 we had a 68th birthday party for Grandma Barb. March 9 it was nice enough that Joseph got to ride the very gentle mare, Buttercup. By March 19 we had six bouncing calves and several cows about to calve any day.

About the author

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Heather Eppich is a young former Idaho rancher building a new farm and family with her husband and young son, near Handel, Sask. Contact her at: [email protected]

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