Habits of Cows After Calving

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skyline

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OK, here's my newbie question of the week. I had a heifer have her first calf sometime yesterday, as a new calf showed up for feeding this morning. Nice little heifer calf. The mom was acting real jumpy and wasn't really mothering like I thought she should, but I decided to give her a little time and see what happened. It looked as if the calf had nursed, since it's nose had that wet look. Went to work and came home at lunch. It's been in the low 30's and drizzling here all day. At lunch, I searched the pasture in the rain and the calf was by itself in the brush away from the herd. Mom was with the herd. I got the calf up, called the cows, the mom claimed the calf and walked away with it. The calf had an orange BM (colostrum, I understand) when I got it up, so I felt good that it had some milk. I came in tonight, 33 degrees and light rain, and the calf was not with the herd at the hay rolls. The mom was. I drove around in my muddy pastures and finally found the calf, got it up, called the cows, mom claimed the calf, and the calf started nursing.

This isn't the first time that I have had cows act this way, but it worries me that they lay their calves down and go about their business with the herd on opposite ends of the pasture. Is this normal? Am I worrying too much? (Go easy on me, I can imagine some of you crusty old-timers rolling your eyes on this one.)
 

Hippie Rancher

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Sounds normal to me. How big is the pasture? Newborns need to sleep alot - mama probably placed it in a safe out of the way place. If you have the time next time you see her away from it just sit in your truck for a couple of hours and watch what she does. I bet she will go out and call it to come out of hiding to be fed.
 

hillrancher

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Catch the calf and make it cry. Mom will be in you hip pocket before you know what is happening. Most likely the rest of the heard. Just normal she will hide it for about 4 days.
 

js2743

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that is normal just nature taking its course they will hide them out for a few days. i always figured they did this till the lil guy was able to keep up with the others, i have never seen a cow or heifer that wouldnt hide her calf.
 

dun

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We have one cow that you can;t get within a coupel of hundred yards of for the first week after she calves, after that it's back to normal. Some hide their calves and go back to the herd, others will hide them and just hang around in the vicinity, others just take them right back to the rest of the cows. They're all good mothers, just different styles of mother managment. Their daughters seem to handle their calves the same way they were dealt with as calves.
 

Susie David

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Once the calf has nursed mom will park it and go have her groceries. Not sure about mothering instincts...twist the calf's ear and make it holler, you'll have the whole herd on the offencive with mom in the lead. When we have a group of young calves the moms will leave them together with one cow or yearling heifer hanging close by babysitting. Always amazies me the instinct that they have to protect the young. Last year one heifer was down calving and I went to check her and all was well but when Susie came over the gals circled the heifer and one of the yearlings actually pushed her away, not agressively but just enough to let her know that she wasn't welcome.
DMc
 

hrbelgians

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I would also say it is normal.
It is definitely interesting to watch some of these things from a distance sometimes. Last year we had most of our calves in one week and the cows would take turns to be the babysitter for several hours at a time while the others ate. Quite facinating to watch I thought.
 

jcummins

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I’m new at this also….but I see exceptions to this.

We don’t have an everyday present at our ranch (that is in the process of changing, since I’ve now retired, and will be able to tend to place much better than in the past), but about a year ago, I came across a calf by itself in open pasture, away from the herd. All the advice I got was leave it alone, that cows will do that. Two days later I checked again, calf in same general area. My instincts was to put the calf in the truck and take it to the house….but advice was as this thread states. It ended up, we lost that calf. The mother had seemingly abandoned it.

I’ve seen exactly what this thread says, and it is the case….most times. But….I’ve seen the opposite also. So….my question is at what point do you decide the mother has done that? The cow that did that last year is still in our herd btw…I’m watching much closer now with my retirement permitting that. I ain't letting that happen again.
 

dun

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jcummins":jv68zyqi said:
I’m new at this also….but I see exceptions to this.

We don’t have an everyday present at our ranch (that is in the process of changing, since I’ve now retired, and will be able to tend to place much better than in the past), but about a year ago, I came across a calf by itself in open pasture, away from the herd. All the advice I got was leave it alone, that cows will do that. Two days later I checked again, calf in same general area. My instincts was to put the calf in the truck and take it to the house….but advice was as this thread states. It ended up, we lost that calf. The mother had seemingly abandoned it.

I’ve seen exactly what this thread says, and it is the case….most times. But….I’ve seen the opposite also. So….my question is at what point do you decide the mother has done that? The cow that did that last year is still in our herd btw…I’m watching much closer now with my retirement permitting that. I ain't letting that happen again.

You keep an eye on the cow, usually mornign and night she'll nurse the calf. get a good look at her udder and teats, you cna normally tell if she has been feeding a calf.
 
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skyline

skyline

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Thanks for all the responses. These cows are in about 25 acres of pasture. All heifers having first calves. I have them seperated from the rest of the herd. There are a few areas of brush and they like to calve and hide their calves in that brush. We started this with 10 heavy bred heifers. Have 6 healthy calves and 4 more to go!

Your responses confirmed my suspicisions. I do believe that they are hiding them until the calves can keep up. It's just hard for me to see the entire bunch of mommas and calves at the hay rings and know that that new calf is out there by itself. But, I'm learning and beginning to understand it better. I think for me the key will be to look for signs of nursing, check on the calves once or twice per day and then let nature take it's course.
 

dun

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If you really wonder if the cow knows where the calf is, sneak out and twist it's ear. Or if it won;t make any noise, move it 50 feet from where you found it. When the cow comes looking and doesn;t find it where she left it you'll hear her calling it.
 

backhoeboogie

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I've got a 5 year old Brah/Char cross. If any cow or heifer has a calf, she becomes the self appointed guard dog for about 3 days. If anyone goes into the pasture, she runs out gets about 50 foot or so in front of the calf and stays there with her head up looking at you. Most of the time this cow is docile and doesn't have a very big flight zone. So when you see her acting strange, something is up. Once that calf starts running with momma, the guard cow settles.
 
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skyline

skyline

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Calf update. This morning the calf was standing by the fence with mom and the rest of the cows at feeding time. Calf knows how to call mom and mom comes running when calf calls her. Life is good.
 

I luv herfrds

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Yes that is normal. We put our first year heifers out with our older cows. Sometimes the heifer will stay by her calf for awhile and with the older cows we have the "nursery" where all of the cows leave their calves and one cow stays with them as a guard. The "guard" switches each day so no one cow is there the whole time, especially during feeding time.
 

Cowdirt

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I agree with most of what has been said about mothering instincts. Cattlemen develop instincts about their cattle also. If my gut tells me that the mother is just not giving the calf the attention it needs I will put them together in a smaller place by themselves and let them bond better. This has worked for me.
 

angie2

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On the calving board, TexasBred has posted a site for an excellent article titled Maternal Behavior of Beef Cows. It is a great read, and applicable to this topic. Give it a look if you haven't already.

Edit ~ Is on 'Marking a calf" thread
 
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skyline

skyline

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angie2":2rt9qc3k said:
On the calving board, TexasBred has posted a site for an excellent article titled Maternal Behavior of Beef Cows. It is a great read, and applicable to this topic. Give it a look if you haven't already.

Edit ~ Is on 'Marking a calf" thread

Yes, that is a very good article. Thanks for referring me to it.
 

Calman

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I have some mommas who keep the calf hid for about three days and one paticular momma who don't let her calf run with the herd until about a week.Then some who have their calf with the herd as soon as it's born. When out on my 4wheeler looking for a new calf, I always watch the mother when I get close to the calf the mother is in full alert mode.

Cal
 

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