Spring this year has brought good weather, and farmers and ranchers are enjoying a strong start to the calving season because of it.
“Right now this weather is fabulous,” said Laura Brown of LLB Angus, a purebred Angus breeder in Erskine.
Brown and other cattle producers are hoping that this weather continues into April and May.
“If we get a snowstorm or some really bad weather, that makes everything a lot more difficult,” Brown added.
For now, however, she is maintaining a positive attitude.
“We just have to take what we get,” Brown said.
Local veterinarians are seeing a busy start to calving season, and are preparing for plenty more calvings to come through April and May.
“During calving season it’s all hands on deck,” said Dr. Barb Munholland of Stettler Veterinary Clinic. “It’s a busy time and calvings always take priority. They’re emergencies just like babies in the hospitals are emergencies.”
The veterinary clinic currently has six veterinarians on staff, with two people on call 24 hours a day during calving season.
“The producers when they’re calving are on call all of the time until they’re done, whereas we’re on call but the next night we get to sleep. So I think sometimes the producers have a harder life than we do for these few months,” Munholland commented.
One emerging trend this year has been the number of breach births, according to Munholland.
This has made some of the calvings more complicated for veterinarians, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary as far as Munholland is concerned.
“Breaches are a little more difficult than the average calving but they’re doable,” she said. “The problem comes sometimes when the cow doesn’t show very well when they’re calving, and sometimes by the time we see them the calf is dead. And our goal is always to have a live calf.”
While Munholland doesn’t have an explanation for why she is seeing more breach births this year from a scientific point of view, she noted that one producer passed on a piece of wisdom from his grandfather that breach births tend to be more common on icy years, and this winter has been a particularly icy one.
This is an area where veterinarians can learn from farmers, Munholland said.
“We respect that the producers have seen a lot and know a lot,” she added.
For cattle producers like Brown, there’s always something to be learned, even in a seemingly normal year.
“Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, there’s something different,” she said.
Despite the potential challenges, however, Brown sees calving season as one of the best times of the year.
“There’s nothing nicer than seeing the babies running around with their tails in the air,” she said.