Cold and Wet Calving | VideoCliff Naylor | 3/4/2013
Calves that hit the ground in these types of conditions are exposed to stress, hypothermia and pneumonia. Most ranchers protect newborns from wet winter weather by making sure plenty of dry straw for bedding is available. In extreme cold cases, a hot box is used to warm up individual calves.
"On a good day we`ll have 35 calves, one hot box doesn`t cut it for us," said Brad Tokach.
So Tokach and his brother Richard built a 40-by-104 foot heated and insulated barn that can house twenty calves and their mothers.
"As we get older, we get wiser and we build barns we can drive through and spray straw with a straw buster," he said.
When weather like this hits, newborn calves are immediately hauled into the heated barn followed closely by their mothers, and the cow/calf pair spend the next 24 hours in climate-controlled comfort.
"It`s so much easier on them and easier on us also," Richard said.
Richard and his brother built another shelter just for calves two years ago that also provides plenty of protection from North Dakota winter storms. Even though this cold, wet weather creates plenty of problems, the Tokach brothers aren`t complaining about the snow.
"If we`re going to have grass in the spring, we`ve got to have moisture now, it`s just the way it is," Richard said.
Over 300 calves have been born on the Tokach ranch so far this year with another 250 expected by the beginning of May.
The Tokach brothers started calving in early February and they say with the exception of today`s weather, there has been only one other winter storm that has impacted their ranch so far this winter.