The cattle year
Ideally, the year starts in April when the calves are born but sometimes nature dictates that the calves are a little later. In 2019 we had calves born in April, June and September!!
At the turn of the year when the calves are 8 to 9 months old they are already becoming independent of their mother. If the mother is pregnant, they will start the process of natural weaning and will make it difficult for the calf to drink milk. Eventually the calf will stop drinking, although will still have a bond with it’s mother. At an appropriate time we will separate the mothers from the calves before the next calf is born. We will then continue to socialise and halter train the calves.
Ideally, the bull is introduced in mid June so that the next calves will be born in April the following year. Cows giving birth later in the year are put in with the bull once we are happy that the cow is looking after the calf and the calf is healthy. In theory, a cow can give birth to the next calf about 11 months after the last so we hope to eventually achieve all our cows giving birth in April, but it may take many years. The bulls are removed from the cows in mid December to avoid any births after the end of September the following year.
The vet visits and scans the cows to check whether they are in calf 6 weeks after the bull has been removed.
Socialising the Cattle
We spend time with our cattle to both check they are healthy, but also to ensure they are comfortable with human contact. This usually involves a lot of activity from us grooming them, and a lot of standing quietly by them in enjoyment.
This ensures that we can check over cattle in the field rather than moving them to the handling facilities. This minimises movement and stress for us all.
We now ensure all our young cattle are familiar with the cattle trailer. Whilst they may never need to use it, it can be stressful for them on their first encounter.