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Never Give Up- A Tale of a Premature Calf Born on the Dot Seven Ranch

August 13, 2017

Fall on the Dot Seven Ranch can only mean one thing: calving season. We start calving about the end of August but this year was much different. About two weeks ago (end of July) my Mom was doing a routine herd check on a Friday morning when she noticed one of the first calf heifers going into labor. This was not a good sign and we were prepared for the worst.

Calves born an entire month early typically don’t survive. They are underdeveloped and much too small, not to mention the heat of the Central San Joaquin Valley is often far too intense for a newborn to handle.

Fortunately, the heifer had the calf without any complications. Step one was a success. Much to my Mom’s surprise, she also found the calf alive! We knew at this point that although we had a LONG way to go, we were going to do anything in our power to help this calf survive his unfortunate entrance into this world.

Not surprisingly, this calf was TINY. His hair was very short and coarse. His ears fit in the palm of my hand, a little bigger than the likes of a golfball. He was a tiny heap of bones with all the obvious signs that he should have baked a little longer.

First order of business was getting colostrum into him as soon as possible. We knew if there was any chance of him living it would be because of the colostrum and our intervention. My mom also administered (injected) some vitamins and minerals to give him a little extra boost. We call these our “weak calf shots” and they come at the recommendation of our veterinarian.

It was soon decided that Maximus would be his name. After all he needed something strong going into the hard battle he had ahead.

Maximus couldn’t drink from a regular bottle, the nipple was too big for his mouth. It was off to the feed store for a smaller goat nipple. And that was just the ticket. He drank a healthy amount of colostrum considering his size; that was when we started to think he had a chance.

The heifer was in a small pen in the coral that we use for these kinds of unexpected calving season scenarios.  Shade, fresh food, & water were provided and after his feeding we put Max back with his mother.

For the next week-and-a-half trips were made morning and night to feed Max and try to see if the heifer had any milk. In the beginning, my mom would get about a quarter cup each feeding so we continued to supplement Max with the hopes that his mom would start producing much more milk soon. After all, she wasn’t supposed to calve for another month.

Slowly but surely everything progressed. Max got stronger. His mother’s natural instincts kicked in. Her udder filled out a little bit at a time. And Max drank less and less of the milk he was being fed.

At two weeks old, Max is no longer super wobbly, he bawls and play and kicks like a normal calf and his mother cares for him very intently. We are proud to say that this pair has moved to a larger pasture where he will continue to grow. We will monitor them closely for many weeks to come. And my mom still makes the heifer take Max to the shade every single day.

Sometimes, ranching isn’t easy but lessons are learned and the rewards far outweigh the sweat and tears. For more updates on Max follow my instagram @meetyourbeef or @thebeefboutique . I share updates on my stories often ūüôā


Calving Season 2013

And Just Like That, The Calves are Off!

March 28, 2014

Well, the 2013 calf crop has been sold and the calves are off to the next stage of their life somewhere near Exeter, CA.

imageI have to say, sitting in that sale barn watching our calves run through the ring pulls a bit on the heart strings. ¬†Proud would be the most prominent emotion. ¬†I think we produced a heck of a product this year considering the drought. ¬†Our calves looked good and gained more weight than we really expected. ¬†There was also also a hint of sadness yesterday. ¬†It’s kinda hard to say goodbye to something my family has worked so hard to produce. ¬†And then of course there was the nervousness! ¬†As the auctioneer called out “these are those quality Robinson calves” and the bidding started it was all I could do to keep my heart from racing right out of my chest! And this isn’t my first trip to the sale barn, I promise. ¬†When your fate lies in the hands of whomever showed up to buy that day, it can be a tad stressful. It’s probably only me though because my mom looked pretty cool and collected. Luckily this year there were record cattle prices so that will relieve a bit of the hit we took buying additional hay this winter.

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Meet Your Beef

Perseverance, Some Strong Rope, and Serious Luck

September 20, 2013

Over the last weekend we had another set of twins (remember how I said twins were a pain in the butt? That‚Äôs definitely still true). We also had a different cow that sadly lost her calf last week due to unknown reasons. Losing a calf is horrible and far from ideal but, the fact of the matter is, when you deal with animals you deal with nature and nature is sometimes a force to be reckoned with. These circumstances left us with yet another opportunity to graft a calf (taking one of the twins and giving her a new mother). The video above shows her happily (you can tell this just by looking at how fast her little tail is goin’) having supper with her new mother for the first time.

Getting these two to accept each other is somewhat of an art and will be a VERY long process for us on the .7 Ranch. You may remember from the last post how we grafted that calf by taking the hide from the calf who died and attaching it to the twin just like a little jacket. We got lucky with that situation as the timing was perfect and that method is virtually foolproof. This cow had lost her calf 5 days before the twins were born and therefore we did not have the hide to use.

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Calving Season 2013, Meet Your Beef

Wasn’t broke but needed fixin’

September 9, 2013
Cuteness overload!

Cuteness overload!

Can we talk about how cute this calf is? ¬†Just for a second though because we’ve got to get down to business here. ¬†But first, make sure you notice she’s got white eyelashes!

Besides her eyelashes, you may also notice some duct tape around the lower half of her front leg. ¬†Let’s discuss that. ¬†This little heifer was born with what you call “contracted tendons”. ¬†The result of this is the calf being unable to properly extend its leg(s).

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Calving Season 2013, Meet Your Beef

Turning a Negative into a Positive

September 4, 2013

It’s been an interesting Labor Day weekend on the .7 (dot seven) Ranch. ¬†Let’s just say the title of this holiday is quite fitting! ¬†While my brother and I we’re celebrating my birthday a littler early in the mountains, my mom was checking all the cows. ¬†Saturday we had a set of twins. ¬†One heifer and one bull calf, both healthy. ¬†Twin calves are often a bit of a predicament. ¬†Because our cattle are pretty close to the corrals, we bring the twins and their mother in so we can make sure that the calves are nursing and getting along just as they should. ¬†So that is just what my mom did. ¬†Sidenote: Generally a cow has a hard time raising twins. ¬†Sometimes she may not even accept the second calf. ¬†It takes a heck of a cow to raise a set of twins, one that is in great condition and has a really good udder. ¬†For this reason twins are not the optimal situation. ¬†Twin calves that are left on their mother tend to be quite a bit smaller than average. ¬†Since raising these animals is how we make a living, we want one mother cow to one calf so she can raise one big stout calf instead of two mediocre calves.

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Calving Season 2013, Meet Your Beef

Calving Season 2013

August 27, 2013

Well, it’s here! ¬†The best time of year (besides maybe payday and my personal favorite, Christmas).

Calving season means a lot of things for us on the .7 ranch.  It means having all hands on deck 24/7 watching the cows by checking on them multiple times a day.  It means new life and sometimes harsh realities of life but it also means the beginnings to a paycheck.

This last Sunday my mom had spent the morning checking all the cows and bringing up the first calf heifers* who were getting close to calving. ¬†She had let my brother and I know that there was a heifer that she thought was starting to calve and to check on her first thing when we arrived. ¬†When I got there that afternoon, said heifer was certainly in labor. A crick in her tail and some mucus coming out her back end. ¬†About 10 minutes later there were three of us there watching her every move. ¬†Below are the chain of events in pictures. ¬†I apologize for the vulgarity of the first picture but I warned ya it was my intention to show exactly how this ranching thing works ūüôā

image-1  image-4image-5

*Clarification: first calf heifers are the females who have yet to have a calf. We pull them out of the herd (always with a buddy) and put them close to the barn so we can monitor them more closely in case there are any complications.  Because these animals are rookies to being a mother we take extra precautions to ensure live and healthy calves.