SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– The winter weather is taking its toll on farmers and ranchers who are calving right now.
Varying weather like what we’ve seen this week, makes for some challenging calving conditions.
Morning chores are underway at the Kapperman farm, but the below-zero temperatures bring extra challenges as their cows are calving.
“It’s usually pretty strenuous, I mean the cold weather makes a guy have to pay a lot more attention to the calves and you can’t leave them to lay out there quite as long. And when you’re out there you’ve got to be prepared for all temperatures and dress accordingly,” said Billy Kapperman, farmer. “Luckily we’ve got enough heaters everywhere so when they hit the ground we can get them in and get them dried off.”
It’s important to get the calf dried off to avoid losing ears, tail or possibly even feet.
“Ears freeze, tails freeze and when they freeze indefinitely they will drop off, and our biggest fear is once in a while those little calves when they lay they won’t lay on their feet and cover their feet and if they freeze a foot it’s not good thing,” said Jeff Kapperman, farmer.
The drastic drops in temperature also is hard on the mother cows.
“When there’s a variation and a front coming through, it can set cows off into calving. You know it seems like they try and calve before there is a major storm coming in or something so they get it out of the way,” said Jeff.
While Kapperman’s chose to calve in the wintertime to avoid the mud, other producers like Kurt Stiefvater chose to calve in May.
“I just got tired of fighting the cold weather and the snow and rainy weather. Jus thought the calves would be a lot healthier and mother nature kind of tells us that we need to calve in a late spring in the warmer, that’s when the wildlife have their young so kind of took a page from mother nature and looked at it that way,” said Stiefvater.
Warm conditions make birth easier on both the cow and calf.
“They pretty much just take care of themselves when it’s out in those warmer conditions. I calve them on a pasture and I just really don’t baby sit them at all they just have them on their own so I don’t do night checks and things like that,” said Stiefvater.
Towards the end of the cow’s pregnancy, she needs a higher level of nutrition, which is easier to provide during the late spring calving. Winter calving can make it easier for certain selling cycles and provides a way to avoid muddy conditions. But it is really depends on the operation and the farmers needs as to what calving operation is the best for them and their cattle.