Monday, September 17, 2007
We have a herd . . . sort of
Two weeks after the due date, Rosalie finally gave birth to her first calf. Rosalie's a grade Jersey and was born here on the farm. She was bred to the same Limosin bull as Lottie. Unlike her mother, Rosalie chose a nice shady spot at the edge of the pasture that's easily accessible to the humans for viewing, and she wasn't cranky about us looking at the calf.
There's clearly much affection between the cows, who are a mother-daughter pair, and that affection extends to both calves. Yesterday, shortly after the birth, we watched the new calf nurse from its dam's tender udder while Lottie licked its still wet coat and mooed softly. Lottie's own calf, now three weeks strong, stood quietly nearby. Already, the cows are taking turns with babysitting duties - one staying close to the calves and the other grazing a ways off. It's typical herd behavior, but interesting to observe nonetheless.
Cows, like mother animals of most species, have a particular 'voice' for communicating with their young. That early soft-voiced 'mother-talk' always fascinated me when we were actively raising dairy goats. I'm not surprised to find similar patterns among cattle, and I don't think anyone who knows me well is surprised at how much I like listening in to those private conversations.