In the 1990s there was a show called Bay Watch. Beach lifeguards saved lives and tried to solve their personal life issues. There was a lack of clothing and lots of sunshine. Little did I know that my marriage to a farmer would bring back this drama … in the form Birth Watch, a calving season drama.
During calving season we watch cattle constantly. The sooner we can help a cow in calving distress the better for her and the more hopeful we can be for the calf’s survival. So, we start our observations before labor starts. Cattle gestate nine months, and we schedule when the bull is with the cows. So, we have a good idea of when to start watching for potential births. Then, the visual nature of late third-trimester pregnancy helps us narrow down our search. You see, a cow is not just a cow. Look more closely.
Can you see the pregnancy? Yes? No? Maybe?
When I first began my birth-watch training, I kept forgetting which side of the cow carries the calf. In humans, we carry babies at the front. Mama cats seem to get round all over. But what about cows is that a big belly full of forages or is that a calf almost ready to be born?
Here’s how I worked it out in my brain … emphasis on my brain. This method is not required for my Farmer to birth watch.
Don’t be shy. Tracing cow backsides with your finger from a respectable distance is a necessary part of the job.
Bay Watch had me glued to the screen in the 1990s, but Birth Watch has my eyes plastered to cow hind quarters twice a year every year. This is the circle of life, y’all. It doesn’t get discontinued for ratings or actors wanting to expand their genre, etc.
Here in the South, the warmer climate allows a calving season during winter if you’re in the Deep South and a late winter/early spring calving season if you’re in the Mid South. So, that said, it may be only mid-January, but some of y’all may be in need of this very important, extremely useful alphabetical take on bovine gestational situations.
Thanks for reading!
Best, Emily Grace
For more images, a hilarious conversation with my Farmer about calf-bump tracing and a pop quiz, visit my blog Beef and Sweet Tea.