We try to get our herd of organic pedigree Devon cattle to calf in the spring. Over the years we have found that this works better than having calving all through the year. The principal benefit is that, after the winter, the heifers and cows are not carrying too much condition, (that is a polite way of saying, “not too fat”!) This means that calves are a little smaller, making calving easier for the mother, and ensuring fewer problems at birth.
So we were delighted in the past few days that one of our Red Ruby Devon heifers (a heifer is a young cow that has not had a calf previously) and one of our cows had each given birth without assistance, to healthy female calves. Calving has started….
One of the amusing things that often happens is that you will get an adopted “aunty”, another cow which has not yet calved, who fusses around the newly born calf, presumably prompted by her own maternal instincts, just like humans!
At birth we check that all is well with the calf, that it can get up on its own, and that it is suckling its mother to drink the important health-giving colostrum in its mother’s milk.
Then each calf is tagged, as is required by law, and it is registered so that it has its own cattle passport.
With our pedigree Red Ruby female calves, the next step is to register them with the Devon Cattle Breeders Society, so that they have a pedigree certificate and can take their place in time in the registered national pedigree breeding herd. We name all the female calves born in a particular calendar year with the same initial letter. This year is “P”, and we generally use the names of flowers or plants. So welcome, Stone Farm Primrose and Stone Farm Polyanthus.
There may be a bit of bureaucracy involved in all of this, but the main thing is that we have two lively, healthy Red Ruby Devon calves joining our herd and, with the first calves being born, we know that Spring has arrived!