Calving in the cold keeps ranchers like Jack Dye very, very busy. "When it's cold we're out there continually checking every hour/half hour, trying to monitor the cows," said Dye, of Dyesville Angus Ranch in Hermosa.
Dye and his workers are monitoring around 600 cows as they give birth to their babies in below freezing temperatures. "We all got to be out in the conditions, but if we can make them comfortable, that's what I try to do," said Dye.
Calves are susceptible to 'cold stress,' which can cause them to die. So, ranchers have to take the proper precautions.
First, trying to make sure calves are born inside the calving shed. "Just like humans if we're out of the wind, we feel a lot better," said Dye.
Then, searching for and bringing in calves that are born outside. "If they're born outside we have a warming room in our calving shed and make sure they get dried off," said Dye.
And giving the calves a dry place to keep warm. "We try to keep fresh bedding out, it helps with disease, and it also helps keep things warm," said Dye.
Everything that's done is to prevent the calf from getting too cold. A tell-tale sign if a calf is too cold is if the ears have frostbite (or are frozen!). Ranchers also check a calf's temperature. A good temperature is around 99 to 100 degrees. Anything lower and it's into the warmer hut for the calf. "Get their temp up to normal so that they can get their first milk," said Dye.
And getting that first milk is super important as it has all the antibiotics a calf will need for the rest of it's life. But all this work isn't considered work by everyone. "I personally don't think it's work, I play all day. Just a little kid in a candy shop," said Wyatt Maciejewski, a helper on Dye's ranch.
Play that is taken seriously. "You have to have passion for what you're doing, for the calves, because they're just like little kids. You have to take care of them like a human," said Maciejewski.
Dye added that while keeping his cattle warm, he also has to think about him and his workers.