Spring: A Time of New Beginnings

With spring in the air, farmers are in the middle of calving season. We checked in with John, a farmer from northeastern South Dakota to ask him what it’s like.

HFT: Tell us about your farm and your family.
JOHN: With my family, I grow soybeans and corn and raise beef cattle. My wife, Jaclyn, and I have a 4-year-old son, Dane, and new a baby girl, Raegan.

HFT: What is calving season?
JOHN: Calving season is the time of year when all of our mother cows give birth to baby cows, which are called calves. Most farmers in our area calve in the spring but a few producers calve in the fall months.

HFT: What do you do during calving season?
JOHN: During calving season, we closely monitor the cows to make sure their needs are met. On our farm, we check them around the clock every two to three hours, depending on the conditions. Some operations calve indoors and some calve outdoors. We calve outdoors in the pasture when conditions are good. When inclement weather happens, we take precautions to make sure the new calves are well taken care of. Oftentimes, during storms, we are with our cows around the clock. Not only do they have to be fed just like any other day, we want to monitor the cows to make sure their deliveries go smoothly. If a cow is having complications, sometimes we have to help her or call a veterinarian. We also closely monitor the newborn calves to make sure they are nursing and are healthy.

HFT: How do you make sure your animals are cared for properly?
JOHN: We want our cattle to be as comfortable as possible so we make sure they are fed a balanced ration prepared by an animal nutritionist and provide clean bedding and protection from the wind. We vaccinate our cattle and keep a close eye on them to make sure they stay healthy and comfortable. In inclement weather, we bring the calves and their mothers into barns to keep them warm and dry.

HFT: How does raising livestock relate to soybeans?
JOHN: Livestock are big consumers of soybean products. Feeding cattle and other animals high-quality soybean meal and other products keeps the animals healthy and happy. The waste from animals can also be spread on farmland to produce high-quality nutrients for crops such as soybeans and corn.

HFT: What is the most important thing for consumers to know about raising livestock?
JOHN: Healthy and comfortable livestock produce the highest quality food for your family. As a farmer, it’s very important to me that my animals are well taken care of. Farmers take great pride in setting high standards for raising their livestock, just as they do when raising their own families.

John's son smiles with a young calf on the family's farm.  John's son poses with a small calf inside a barn at the family's farm.  John's son snuggles up to a calf in the field.  John takes a selfie with a calf on his farm.