A new calf was born in one of the pastures here on ABAC’s campus during the early morning on Jan. 19. Due to the possible threat of pathogens and other biohazards, student visitation is limited to beef unit student workers, faculty and staff that tend to the cattle and students enrolled in ASLH courses that use the herd to learn about cattle.
However, students can view the calf or any other cattle from a distance at ABAC’s pastures in front of the beef unit office building. The cattle are primarily used to aid in the instruction of animal responsibility, care, feeding and cattle management.
Mary Hicks, involved in the cattle’s management, said the length of parturition, also known as the calving process, is unknown since the calf’s birth took place during night hours on campus. According to Mrs. Hicks, the calving process can take place over a matter of hours or slightly longer depending on whether or not it’s the mother’s (or dam’s) first calf. When asked about the calf and dam’s names, Hicks responded, “The dam’s identification within the herd is 1506. The first two numbers indicate that she was born in 2015 and since she is a female, we identify our females with an even number – and even place their tags within a specific ear. Heifers, as they are born, (the tags) are placed in their right ears and bull’s (tags) will be odd-numbered and placed in their left ears.” The calf’s label is 2000, indicating that she is the first heifer born in 2020.
The calf’s journey, however, has merely begun. After calving, the people caring for it watch it closely for symptoms of diarrhea (scours), the absence of appetite, respiratory issues or any other complications a newborn may face. “Our calving season will continue for the next 45-60 days with hopefully the majority of the cows coming early in the calving season,” Hicks explains. Currently, in this calving season, ABAC’s beef unit has a total of 18 calves born with predictably seventy more on their way. Anyone interested in seeing ABAC’s cattle can view them at the pasture behind the fence in front of the beef unit office building.