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Montana Ag Network: Cold weather calving

POWER – Calving season is underway for many ranchers across Montana, but the cold can make it challenging.

When the calves start coming and temperature still struggles to get above zero, the days for the Davis family are never really done.

“We spend 24 hours a day with these cows. We each have our own little shift — me and dad and Jesse. And we just rotate through them all day long,” said Cassidy Brunner Davis of East Bench Cattle.

Their dedication can be the difference between life and death for a newborn calf.

“They have snacks over those babies heads when they come out those sacks if they don’t break it will suffocate the calf right away or if it freezes,” Brunner Davids said.

Cold Calving Season
Calving season is underway for many ranchers across Montana, but the cold can make it challenging. (MTN News photo)

It can especially be a problem for new mothers but Davis says the older cows know how to handle it.

“The calf sometimes will shake it off their hands but mainly the cow licks it off. That’s what gets the calf going, gets them warm right from the start,” Brunner Davis explained.”

With temperatures still below zero every new calf gets a trip to the shed, “they usually stay about one-to-two days depending on how cold it is outside,” Brunner Davis said.

With some shots and plenty of food, the new arrivals quickly gain the strength to head back out.

At their peak, eight-to-15 calves are born a day and the constant vigilance is exhausting, “by the middle of March, we’re tired it gets to be a lot,” said Brunner Davis.

She added that they aren’t always successful, “we’ll lose five-to-10 cows a year, and it’s just luck.” But they never throw in the towel, “this is what makes or breaks us.”

-Joe Huisinga reporting for MTN News


Mark Thorsell

Mark Thorsell

Mark Thorsell is a digital content producer and editor at KPAX and KAJ. He is originally from Connecticut and moved to Montana over a dozen years ago. Mark has worked as a journalist for 25 years.
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