Cameron Betts, Cattleman

24 February 2023


Back in October we bought in some in-calf Lincoln Reds from down South. As these were older and more experienced cows we trust that they can deliver their own calves themselves with minimal intervention so we leave them to calf outside. We check them all throughout the day though just to make sure that everything is ok. The calf pictured here sheltering in the long grass out of the wind was calved outside and is only one day old. The mum did brilliantly and I didn’t need to offer any help.


On the other hand we have about 100 or so heifers, these are first time mums which means more complications can arise so we keep these girls inside to keep a close eye on them.

This photo shows a heifer whose calf is coming out the wrong way, it should be head first but unfortunately the calf here was coming out with it’s back legs first. In order for the calf to survive this it needs a helping hand both safely and quickly. The device I used is a calving jack and can apply pressure to assist in the calving process. I have to make sure the cow is secured into our calving gate during this to allow the assistance to take place safely for both me and cow. After a very quick delivery both calf and mum are doing great and have been put out to pasture.


Through the winter months we like to keep our cattle outside rather than keep them in the shed, leaving the cows in a more natural habitat. This year we are doing it a few different ways, we have cows down on the coast – a group of young heifers that are grazing on grass that we have stored throughout the growing season for the purpose of feeding throughout the winter.  At the other end of the estate we are using a bale grazing system. This process is the same as the stored grass but with additional bales of hay (as the grass growth isn’t as good due to the different soil) to help give the cattle the feed they require. Both groups are moved daily onto fresh grass as well.

Yesterday Scott, Kieran, Hunter and I had to bring in all 240 of last years calves to have their annual BVD ( Bovine Viral Diarrhoea) tests done by the vet. This is done by taking blood so we run a general health check on them all as well. At the same time I gave each one a bolus of copper as previous tests had shown they were short of copper which can be a common issue in Lincoln Reds.


Overall though the calving period is three months of little sleep, long hours and genuine hard graft, it is the end result that is the most rewarding. Getting to see the young calves run around the fields playing together in the spring evenings gives me a real sense of pride and overall enjoyment of this busy period.

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