BEEF Daily

The Joys Of Calving Season


Despite the extra hours that calving season requires, those baby calves remind us why we are in the business.

Calving season is underway at our place. That means 2 a.m. checks, weighing and tagging calves, bedding the barn for calving cows, hauling water, and mucking out the stalls. In other words, it's general exhaustion, as we calve out the bred heifers and prepare for the cows to get their turn.

On Saturday, I got a break from the woes and joys of calving season. I flew out to Altoona, PA, to speak at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer & Rancher Leadership Conference. From there, I will speak in New Bethlehem, PA, at the Redbank Valley FFA Alumni Fundraiser tonight, and I’m honored to be able to share my story and offer a state-of-the industry address to both groups. 

I’m not going to lie, getting a full night’s sleep, without having to do the night check, is great, too.

Even though calving season can be a tiresome time of year, it’s also one of the best times to be a rancher. It’s the time of year when we get to see how our genetic pairings turned out, and our bred heifers make their way into a productive herd. I’m not embarrassed to admit it, but aside from anticipating the genetic potential of these new critters and how they might fit into our future breeding plans, I also really enjoy seeing those new baby calves run and play in the pasture.

The evening before I flew out to Pennsylvania, I did the 2 a.m. check and found a bred heifer of ours calving. She looked like she might need assistance, so I called my husband Tyler and my dad. Together, we pulled the calf and got the new bull calf up and nursing its mother before we went to bed. At 3 a.m., we all just stood there, watching the cow mother her baby, with smiles on our faces.


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Even though I’ve been doing this my whole life, and my dad has another 30 years on me, we both appreciated the moment for what it was -- a new beginning on the ranch. No matter how many years you’re in this business, it's something I think hardly any rancher takes for granted. Sure, things don’t always go as planned -- a calf might die, or a cow might not take her baby -- but when it does go right, calving season is the perfect time to renew your spirits and bolster your enthusiasm for the cattle business.

So, if you’re getting run down and in desperate need of a nap from the ups and downs of calving season, remind yourself why you're doing this and what you love about this business. Then, go look at your healthy baby calves and smile, because you know there's nothing in the world you'd rather be doing.

Are you calving yet? If so, how is it going so far? Share your best calving stories in the comments section below.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Joe C. Paschal (not verified)
on Mar 11, 2013

That's why I calve in the pastures in the fall... but of course I am in South Texas where it is warm in the winter anyway! Great thoughts Amanda!

Darcy (not verified)
on Mar 11, 2013

Cheering you on during this season! We have just about wrapped up calving here - only a handful left, out of about 450 heifers and young cows - so I get where you're coming from. Hang in there! And your attitude is great - it IS a great time of year. Except sometimes I think it'd be that much greater if we just had a wink or two more of sleep. :)

on Mar 11, 2013

I will be sending this link to my husband as he is NOT good at missing sleep! But as I always try to remind myself, "If we don't love this life, why are we living it?" We do love it...but there are a few jobs that I really don't like. 2 a.m. calf checks are something I could do without. Rarely do we need to do anything, but I just can't sleep through the night thinking that a heifer might need our help, or a calf might get too cold and not be able to get up. So we still get up, get dressed in coveralls (over my PJs) and head out to make sure everyone is okay.

Thanks for the reminder this morning!

on Mar 11, 2013

My very best memories of calving season are when we moved to calving on green grass rather than in the winter. I never got up in the night again, I never pulled a calf in the cold, we no longer brought calves into the house to warm them up, calves actually did get up on their own and ran around the pasture rather than a dry lot, and we made a lot more money. That is my view of a joyful calving season.

Bob Mudd (not verified)
on Mar 11, 2013

On our remote island out in the north Pacific Ocean ( Alaska ) we get the warm currents from Japan and so we graze all year long so we are calving on the outside . We calve about 100 heifers each year and have never had to pull a calf. So i kind of feel like we are cheating when it comes to calving......but loving it .

Cynthia Nelson, Nelson Ranch (not verified)
on Mar 11, 2013

Awesome time of the year! Love your article. We are in the mist of our calving season here near Chesaw, Wa. We calve out 400 cows and 200 heifers. I do the 1230pm check. There is only 3 of us that work 24/7, we rotate shifts at noc. Can relate to lack of sleep. Last Friday we had a heifer that had a upside down, head back calf. We ended up having to call the vet, saved the heifer and did not have to do a C-section after all. So far we have 175 calves now, get about 15 a day. Keep up the good work on your Blog site. I started a simple Blog site for our Ranch to share weekly pictures and stories of the Ranch life. Can access it from Facebook, Cynthia Nelson, and Nelson Ranch page. Still have lots of snow on the ground here, but Spring seems to be in sight!!!

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What's BEEF Daily?

BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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