e moved to late spring calving for several reasons. First because of cougar predation, and because the cows and calves do better when the cows have been on grass for a bit before calving. Winter and late spring calving is hard on cows and the month or so of Dr. Green really helps clean out the works. It does go against the grain though of conventional cattle raising modus operandi. The grass helps the cows slick out after a winter of hay feeding, and it’s a little warmer and drier. The method to our madness as far as the cougars go…let them eat venison and elk babies. Waiting until the deer fawn and elk calve has helped us immensely in the beef eating cougar department. The cougars are fairly protected now, due to the laws outlawing the use of dogs to hunt big cats. I don’t want this to turn into a rant so suffice it say, I don’t agree with those laws, but until city folk come up against a cougar eating Fluffy or their toddler, I don’t think much will change on that front. Good heavens, its pure entertainment to see the news crews following a poor coyote around in Portland or Seattle, I feel sorry for the coyote… . Anyway, the cougars prefer to stay around the perimeter and eat deer and elk, so I am happy to keep my cows out of the woods until the calves are a little bigger.
The biggest and actually only pain of rotational grazing is at calving time. Cows bed their calves down like deer for about the first three days or so. If a calf is born just before paddock shift, I may either leave the cows one more day because there is safety in numbers, or I leave the back fence open so the cow can go back and get to her calf. I make sure all my fences are high so the calf can come and go freely without getting shocked. I do not want a baby calf that can’t figure out the fence thing to get shocked hard enough it won’t come to its mother when called. I also don’t put up extra fence to keep the calf in, I’ve seen baby calves that are startled run right through a 5 strand barbwire fence their flight instinct is so strong. Even so, stuff happens. I breathe a sigh of relief when everyone is born and acclimated to staying in the paddocks.
Graphic Photo below.
Things don’t always go according to plan. Many times we only found cougar kills a day or so after the calf disappeared. The last one several years ago, was still alive and maimed, we had to put it down, after documenting the damage for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. I never want to see this again. And I take offense at people who tell me I am going to kill this animal anyway so what’s the big deal. It’s a big deal.
And just so you know I don’t dislike all cats, we have finally been allowed a viewing of the kittens.