ORTONVILLE, Minn. (KELO) — Calving season is underway for many farmers and ranchers…and you don’t need to live on a farm to experience it. All you need to do is go online and check out the KELOLAND Cow Cam.
At first glance, you may think this is an agricultural education classroom, with students learning about calving season. But, this is Ortonville’s Language Arts class, where students are learning to read body language through studying animals.
“Since we don’t have the volume, students have to get better at reading that body language and I’ve found that many of my students are actually not very good at that, so it’s a way for them to be focusing on looking at the body language and what they perceive is happening,” Mary Klages, Language Arts teacher said.
Klages is a beef producer herself, making it easier for her to explain why they are seeing certain gestures from the cattle.
“Particularly for calving when you’re looking for the signs of discomfort, so you know a twitching tail, or the restlessness or perhaps up and down up and down, those kinds of things, also being able to read perhaps signs of stress so you know if a calving is not progressing the way it should, you are able to intervene yourself or call a veterinarian,” Klages said.
“We just get to watch what we don’t really get to see in daily life, even though I live on a farm, I don’t really get to see calves getting pulled everyday and I think that’s pretty cool to actually see and for some kids that don’t get to like live on a farm like me, they get to see something new…and this is just very educational for everyone that watches,” sophomore student Lily Streich said.
Cattle producer Dan Lehrman and his family enjoy connecting and educating those who tune into the cow cam.
“We want to show the people what the farmer or rancher goes through to provide food for the consumer in a safe manner,” Lehrman said.
They have viewers from around the world who watch the Cow Cam and send them questions about the birthing process and the aftercare of the cattle.
“Oh, it’s amazing where they all come from or watch from. We’ve got some in California, Jackie from California watches all the time… We’ve got Neil in Sydney Australia, follows it, I get emails from him frequently, Laurel in Aberdeen watches it all the time and keeps us updated on whatever we might miss, and there’s some on the east coast as well,” Lehrman said.
“He’s always answered emails, he’s offered us our phone number if my students want to have him on speakerphone and ask questions and he’s just been really great to work with and that’s been my experience in the beef industry, it’s so full of people who are extended family even when you don’t have the chance to meet them in person,” Klages said.
But, it’s not only a tool for education. Having the onsight cameras allows the Lehrman’s to check on their cattle at any time of the day, from any location.
“You save one calf, you’ve basically paid for a camera… safety too. If I’m back there, I always have the night shift so if I’m back there at night by myself, if somebody gets up… they check the cameras if a cows got me down or whatever, we can see what’s going on whether its day or night.” Lehrman said.
Lehrman plans to continue using this resource to connect with consumers and classrooms for many years to come.
“We hope they get some enjoyment out of it. A lot of the people that have responded, they grew up on a family farm or they remember going to grandpa’s farm and grandpa’s farm is no longer there, so they can show their kids or grandpa and grandma can show their grandkids this is what we used to do or this is how the birthing process goes and the food chain, how it continues on,” Lehrman said.