Now it’s time to start preparations for calving which begins mid February. I need to wean the remaining calves (bar two) and also reintroduce a group of in-calf heifers back into the main herd. When the cows were housed back in October I separated off these heifers to give the cows with calves at foot enough space. However, I know the reintroduction will cause a ruckus – there will be a good deal of fighting, hierarchical testing and displaying. The cows are heavily pregnant and the yard’s very slippy due to the icy conditions, I want to avoid stressing the animals.
I came up with a plan. I would send the whole herd out for the day onto our frozen wastes, giving them plenty of room and better footing for any fighting. The herd would be full of beans at the general brouhaha, and, having got rid of their pent up energy and resolved hierarchical disputes they’d return safe in the evening. They would also be tired and hungry, which together with the break in routine, would make it easier for them to accept that their calves had been weaned.
Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men do work out – to a tee!
A bawling explosive laval flow erupted from the cow palace and surged in a red steaming flood down the lane practically engulfing Robert, who was trying to instil some kind of control at the forefront. In case he failed and was trampled underfoot we had strategically placed the tractor, topper and gate across the lane to avoid any unstoppable charge down to the River Meadows – luckily this was restraint enough and they poured into Cow Moor kicking, bucking, snorting and farting for England. After a quick gallivant and recky of the field they became aware that there were a good deal more of them than they thought. Let battle commence…I’ll let the photos do the telling!
Interestingly Jennifer, the herd matriarch, took absolutely no notice of the confrontations and battles happening around her. If she sauntered passed a tussling pair they would break off and back away submissively. The senior cows in her governing council, however, did test each other, though this was more of a ritualistic display.
The weaning also went without a hitch, there’s scarcely been a squeak out of the calves or cows.