It’s calving season! And lambing season! Has anyone seen the foals?

Calving season is absolutely my most missed activity now that I’m not able to be on the ranch full time. I’ve always enjoyed taking care of the young calves and even made an agnerd out of myself studying livestock reproduction in both undergraduate and graduate school courses. As I posted on Instagram this week, Placentas are awesome! They were probably my favorite topic in all my reproduction courses through all my college years. The intricacies and interactions that go into creating life and development of a young fetus all depend on a properly developed (and attached) placenta. And they can make for one RANK mess if the detachment process doesn’t go smoothly.

cow placenta

This year’s calving season has been fun to monitor online using the #calving15 and #farm365 hashtags.

Three is a party!

Some ranchers I work with near Harrison, Montana had a heifer give birth to triplets early in the season. The triplets aren’t common, yet it’s not unheard of in cattle. Triplets can be common in sheep.

Image: Sitz Angus Ranch
Image: Sitz Angus Ranch

Four is a crowd?

A few weeks back, a cow in Northeast Texas captured national attention when she gave birth to four calves! According to a local veterinarian, “odds of four live births from one cow are 1 in 11.2 million.” These calves were aptly named – Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. That reminds me of a mare who had triplets when I was taking care of a herd in 2008. Just about as uncommon as having four calves out of a single cow, if not more so. I wrote about those triplet foals earlier on the blog.


Image: NBC DFW
Image: NBC DFW via Huffington Post

Five is… not very common?

Today, I find myself wondering if it’s an April Fools Day prank, or if this ewe in North Dakota really did have five lambs this year! I ran across this story from a North Dakota CBS station reporting that a Denhoff sheep flock is home to a new set of happy and healthy quintuplets. Looks like the Dockter will be busy bottle feeding!


Image: KXNET
Image: KXNET

As it turns out, I did find a few other sets of quintuplet lambs, including some great shots of some black face lambs by the DailyMail in the UK. So, five lambs aren’t unheard of, but it’s certainly unusual.

The weather here in the western portion of the country has been great for early calving and lambing and we certainly hope the trend continues as we dive further into spring. Though, we could really use some significant moisture as snowpack is significantly below normal and extreme fire conditions already exist.

How are things in your neck of the woods? Be sure to follow the Montana Stockgrowers Association Facebook and Instagram pages as I post daily photos from calving season here in Montana!