As I have said before, I am the calf rearer.
This whole Pleasures blogs came from this reply left by Denise in this blog.
It’s not the money, it’s not that it’s not sexy. It’s the hours. It’s working every public holiday. It’s every Saturday, every Sunday. Missing events because you are always still in the shed.
It’s battling the liberationists. It’s having to defend ourselves constantly.
Its the calf part of dairying that will get the ARA’s blood boiling! Its a very emotional issue, not in the least because they are so darn cute and are great for pictures! I have been called a cow rapist, calf thief and murderer more than once. I have been accused of forcing my cows to become pregnant just to make money off them. And you can’t blame the misinformed when information like this and this are floating around!
I have a friend who loves to hear about the calves who mentioned they are like children – and they are!
They have different stages that are similar, but don’t last as long sadly.
First are the newborns.
Unlike humans, they are up and about very quickly!
This little girl is only hours old. She’s up and able to walk with her mum to the dairy. I put her in the calf shed that afternoon – that’s a whole other blog!
Then they become toddlers.
This is the part I love! They start to really develop their own personalities.
This little girl – yes, shes a beef calf! – had a traumatic start to life. Her mum didn’t make it due to the stress caused by foxes and crows. Its times like that I wish we had a calving shed!
Crows like to peck at all the soft bits and had eaten the edge off the little calf’s tongue! She would not have survived, even if her mother had stood up. She took the first feed off the bottle as the adrenalin was still having its pain relief effect. But it was the stomach tube that saved her life.
I know you shouldn’t have favorites, but she is mine! I’m pretty sure I’m hers as well! At feeding time when I open the gate, she walks in and stands next to me and holds my hand up to the calf feeder. She then pushes her way through so she can stand next to me while she feeds. At the moment she wont go on the teat until I put her there! Hopefully its just a stage she’ll grow out of!
The toddlers very quickly turn into children. They love to play a game similar to tag.
A calf goes up to another calf, has a sniff then they both run really fast around the paddock, often taking others with them. Its not unusual to see them all following a circuit! Occasionally, either by accident or design, a foreign object will find its way into the paddock and then becomes part of the course. One windy day a piece of roofing iron blew in. It was soon discovered it made a fantastic sound when little hooves ran over it!
Then they are weaned, and become sulky teenagers!
They spend about a week yelling at me about the lack of milk every time they see me or hear my voice!
They are given grain and hay and they soon learn that’s just as good.
As I am very hands on and treat my calves like they are my babies they become very quiet. It makes bringing them into the dairy easier, and doing any animal husbandry less stress for me and her because she trusts that I will not doing anything that doesn’t need doing.
It also means they can become pests!
But I wouldn’t swap it for anything!
The joy I get from watching a calf you have lovingly raised have her own calf and walk in the dairy is only surpassed by the birth of my own children and their achievements!