BATTLE LAKE -- March marks the beginning of calving season for Mark Christensen’s farm.
With 380 cows to calve out this spring, Christensen, with the help of his children, brothers and nephews, on Saturday, March 14, set out to move 83 black Angus-Hereford crosses to their home farm near Battle Lake from their other land, about 10 miles away.
“Just so they’re closer so we can watch them while they’re calving,” Christensen said.
Calving season is the period of time that happens each spring when expectant cows deliver their calves. The first six weeks will be the busiest part of calving, “usually by the end of April, we’re about 90 to 90% done” Christensen said.
The morning started with hay bails being rolled out in the pasture in preparation for the cows being moved there for calving. Normally a clean field that has not been grazed is ideal, Christensen said, as it is more hygienic for calving. The cows being moved on this Saturday were going to be put in a field that had been grazed over the winter.
The Christensen family led the cows from where they had been wintering with an arm full of hay calling out “kabous!", which is the cow's cue to move, to get the cattle to move into the pen. Once in the pen the cows were lead in small groups down the shoot to get in the trailers to be driven to their calving site.
The cows who are used to being moved in the trailers -- and are used to the Christensen family -- calmly got onto the trailer and off again once they arrived at the pasture where they will be calving.
It took two trips in four trailers, with 10 to 11 cows per trailer. Normally there would be about 13 cows in each trailer, but for calving, they reduced the number by two, Christensen said.
The Christensens have built a shelter in the pasture for newborn calves to stay in until they get dried off if the weather is bad. Once they get dry the calves will be able to handle most weather, Christensen said.
The Christensen farm has 65 heifers, 25 bulls, 330 cows, and is expecting 330 calves this year.