Very Bizzar cows

WyndSyrin

Overrun with beasties
Joined
Jul 13, 2017
Messages
92
Reaction score
67
Points
78
Location
North Central Missouri
Ok have a odd question about some cattle behavior.

We have a group of about 10 or so first time mommas that have had babies ranging from May to August. Here is the last few days, I have noticed that the calves will nurse from just about any of the cows, and not just their momma. Is this normal?
 

Alaskan

True BYH Addict
Joined
May 9, 2017
Messages
1,911
Reaction score
3,853
Points
283
Location
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
Depends on the momma. Some do not care at all, and would mother a stick... others will not let a strange calf get close.

Kind of interesting that your entire herd is so bonded that the calves are communal.
 

WyndSyrin

Overrun with beasties
Joined
Jul 13, 2017
Messages
92
Reaction score
67
Points
78
Location
North Central Missouri
This is just a small number out of the 100+ head we have here. We keep the first timers separate from the rest of the herd. My Bottle Calf Murray came from this group. They are so tame we can walk among them and none even twitch an ear at us. I can get closer than most to even the momma's that just had their calf. That's mainly because I would spend time among them so they would know that I was a person they could trust.
 

greybeard

Herd Master
Joined
Oct 23, 2011
Messages
5,940
Reaction score
10,643
Points
553
Location
East Texas
Fairly common, but not always a good thing.
Hard to tell which mommas are the good producers/mommas and which are 'just getting by' with another momma's help.

Also causes problems at weaning if the calving season is strung out over several months. Weaning one mommas calf off her doesn't help her get back into condition for rebreeding if she's being sucked on by one or 2 other calves.
 

babsbag

Herd Master
Joined
May 10, 2010
Messages
7,835
Reaction score
9,171
Points
583
Location
Anderson, CA
Weaning one mommas calf off her doesn't help her get back into condition for rebreeding if she's being sucked on by one or 2 other calves.
Same goes for goats. Have one doe very worn down and never any milk but only raising a single...so I thought. Caught another kid nursing off of her and I wonder how many others have found the "milk wagon".
 

Bossroo

True BYH Addict
Joined
Jun 15, 2010
Messages
1,416
Reaction score
631
Points
221
Fairly common, but not always a good thing.
Hard to tell which mommas are the good producers/mommas and which are 'just getting by' with another momma's help.

Also causes problems at weaning if the calving season is strung out over several months. Weaning one mommas calf off her doesn't help her get back into condition for rebreeding if she's being sucked on by one or 2 other calves.
Some culling is in order for the good of the herd.
 

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
2,514
Reaction score
7,241
Points
378
Location
virginia
We also have some first calf heifers that will allow any/every one to nurse. Have one smaller heifer that I have seen her calf laying in front of her and 3 others sucking her.
One way to stop some of the problem with weaning is to get them all bred to calve within a "window"of say 45 days. Bull in, breed them all, bull out in a 45 to 60 day period. Then all the calves will come closer together. Wean all together. That will give the "let anyone suck" cows a chance to get a dry period.
That will not stop the communal feeding. I kept this smaller heifer back when I turned the others out to pasture and she will be joining the fall calving group. Right now it is only her and one other late calver from the spring group and it has a calf that has has major pinkeye problems and does not suck any one except his own momma. So little no. 8's calf is now getting all her milk. It does show that she is growing better but this heifer got bred by mistake by a neighbors bull so it is not so bad that she will go 18 months between calves instead of the normal 12. She should have been with the fall group in the first place.
I have a couple of cows that just seem to like or tolerate being "nurse cows"and really, if the calves all do okay, I don't get too excited about it. By the second calf, they are often shifted around and not all will be together so they tend to be less likely to have the same "group mentality"as when they are first calvers and all together.
I would not do any culling at this point if they were mine. If there is one or two that you suspect are not making much milk, or you see a calf or two that is often on a cow that is not it's momma, then I would look closer at that particular cow. Maybe make a point of seeing if the calf is sucking it very often and for how long. Maybe move them to another field. Close proximity will promote that; if they are in a pasture that is bigger, then they will not gravitate together as much and might spread out the communal nursing.
I would make it a point of whatever calves you wean to also remove their mommas to another pasture away from the group so that they do get a chance to be dry and then you might be able to see the ones that are left who is doing what. I would also be suspect of any that have a small bag, but that does not always mean they are not making enough milk. Higher fat content in the milk means they don't need as much milk in quantity for growth. Most beef cows have a 4-7% butterfat as opposed to many dairy cows that run 3-4% average. Have a young cow with a "teacup" for an udder, but her calf drinks, has a big milk foamy moustache, and never goes to another cow that I have seen. She must have all the milk up inside...... I wouldn't think she had any milk and he is growing good.
 
Top