Jake and I are calving the first calf heifers. These are the first time Mama's. The reason these heifers were kept in the herd up to now were for phenotype traits, also known as physical characteristics. These traits include size, muscle shape, growth and structural correctness. This with a combination of their genetic makeup including, their sire (Dad), their dam (Mama) and many others in their long list of relatives. Other than those traits we have no other way of telling if they will be good cows.
** Basically we keep heifers on some of the same characteristics boys look for when looking for a prom date.
These heifers are calving and becoming Mama's for the first time this month. We are looking for several traits in order for them to make into the herd. Mama traits are very important and include the following things.
We are hoping these heifers are able to give birth independently. If we are pulling calves we will look to see if we think this is a fluke or something that may be repeated over the next 15 years.
We are also looking for heifers that will go off deliver their calf, however allow us close enough to evaluate, tag and weigh it. We also want her to be fearful enough that she defends the calf if their were other predators. We also do not want her to be flighty, where she runs off stirring up the other Mama's.
We at no time want to become a Mama to these calves.
At this time the challenges we are facing with the heifer group, which are potential big truck contenders include . . .
** big truck contenders definition - Mama's that will be culled from the herd for being terrible Mama's and will be loaded on a big truck to be made into hamburger.
We currently have a heifer that we found her calf a pasture over from where her Mama was with other cows. It had not eaten for at least 24 hours, she is flighty and stirs up the other Mama's. She is not protecting her calf, nor feeding it. The worst part is she is getting a free lunch everyday. The girls told Celia, who rides to school with us this morning "how would you like it, if your Mom didn't take care of you". I have adopted her calf in the nursery.
The other calf I am feeding is a twin from a heifer. Although not ideal, her Mama will get to stay. She is an excellent mother to the other twin. She just is unable to produce enough milk as a first calf heifer (the equivalent to a teenage mother) to feed two calves.
Only one heifer being culled (so far) out of the 76 first calf heifers isn't too bad I guess.
Spending most of the day riding through the cows and heifers, makes me think of the qualities of a good Mama. The similarities are so interesting.