First Baby of 2010
Prior to calving season, I spend a few hours on the computer projecting when each calf will be born. A cow's gestation is similar to a human's in length. It takes about 285 to 283 days for the average gestation length for a cow. An Angus cow usually has a shorter gestation and larger breeds often have a day or more longer gestation. We also know that heifers (2 year old cows who have never had a calf) usually calve up to 2 weeks early. That may be due to their genetic makeup or the bull's. We select bulls for low birth weight to breed our heifers, and low birth weight bulls usually have a shorter gestation length. So determining the date a heifer or cow will calve is basically math and science!
So we were ready for this baby! The bulk of our cows and heifers are due to calve starting January 25. That is next Monday. Unfortunately this winter is a wet, foggy, muddy mess--the aftermath of the big Christmas snow storm that brought snow drifts up to 6 feet tall in places! So we have put the heifers in a small pasture of medium height grass to provide some cover from the weather, but not so much that we are not able to find the new babies.
This little heifer has an awesome life ahead of her on our ranch. She will grow for about 3 months with her mama before we administer vaccinations and breed the cows for next year's calf. Then around May 1, pasture season starts in the Flint Hills of Kansas and we will take the cow herd with their calves to the highly nutritious native grass pastures to grow until about October 1. At that time, we will wean the calves and select the heifer calves we want to keep and the ones we want to sell. We'll select the bulls to raise to sell or use on our ranch and the ones we will steer to take to a feedlot to create the Certified Angus Beef steaks that so many people love!