Everything to do with bringing in the new bull calf, Jason Aldean, has been easy as pie. In fact it’s been so simple I am subconsciously tensing and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
He is alert and vigorous and extremely quick to get the hang of nursing. (In comparison, my last baby bull, Neal Calf-frey, seemed to have few brains to recognize a teat, a low sucking reflex, and to be so limp altogether that for the first couple of days he would collapse to the floor beneath Moxie unless I held him in position on his feet.) Jason Aldean immediately grasped that there are four teats and he gobbles happily and hungrily until he’s tried them all.
Meanwhile I got weaning rings into the noses of the older calves. Weaning rings hang from the nostrils like a clip-on earring to prevent a calf from nursing. Last year, due to problems with a supplier, I ended up testing several different brands of calf weaners. QuietWean, a smooth crescent disk, is the very simplest and least cumbersome for the calf, so I decided to start with them. If the calves manage to suck around them or get them off, I will move up to the tougher weaners covered with spikes.
The adolescent calves barely noticed the abrupt weaning because yesterday Junie was coming into heat for the second time. When I arrived at the barn I found their stall floor churned into a damp mess, as in their excitement they’d knocked over their water bucket. When I let them out in the paddock, they paid no attention to Moxie and breakfast but instead pursued their burgeoning passion. Junie, drunk with longing, was trying to mount Dorrie at the same time that Neal was trying to mount Junie. For one brief moment the three youngsters were staggering upright in a conga line.
Moxie paid no attention but stolidly munched hay.
I’m soon going to have to figure out how to separate Junie from Neal. There is little danger that he will impregnate her at five months, but as time goes on the odds will rise. For healthy growth and safety, she should not be bred until she is fifteen months old. I would like to sell her to another family cow owner, to be spoiled and petted through a long, happy life. Unfortunately, in winter few people are interested in buying large livestock and in this area Jersey cows are a drug on the market. It is a puzzle I will want to solve before March.
By evening the teenaged calves had settled down and noticed that they’d missed their milk, but apart from a few sad moos they came in to their hay and sweet feed with only a sigh.