Tem­per­a­ment in the yards be­comes an im­por­tant mea­sure­ment too

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Down On The Farm - By early Jan­uary the old­est calves are really fill­ing out. Younger ones still ap­pear a bit smaller – this one still get­ting over a dose of coc­cid­io­sis scours, which set her back. By Jan­uary calves start to tell you some­thing about their own abil­ity to gro

Over time the cows have all be­come qui­eter, so are now more likely to pro­duce quiet calves. A calm mother will cause a less anx­ious re­sponse in her baby to new ex­pe­ri­ences and she in turn will be­come qui­eter.

There are still ge­netic in­flu­ences which some­times make them not eas­ily ha­bit­u­ated to hu­man con­tact and those an­i­mals make them­selves known right from the start. Last year I was de­lighted to dis­cover a sur­prise from hy­potri­chosis-af­fected End­berly, whose fam­ily it tran­spires, must also carry a colour di­lu­tion gene of which I'd not pre­vi­ously seen any ev­i­dence. The calf was a beau­ti­ful sil­ver colour at birth and so, so pretty, a def­i­nite keeper. But she was anx­ious and wild too. The first time she bolted when I ap­proached her I as­sumed I'd given her a fright, but when she al­ways ran away with her head held high, I con­cluded she'd in­her­ited that ten­dency. She calmed down quite a bit over the six months be­fore wean­ing but I could see that she would never have the sort of tem­per­a­ment I really want to keep mov­ing to­ward in my herd. I had to put her in the sale col­umn and hope End­berly might re­peat the colour in a fu­ture calf that would be with­out the un­ac­cept­able tem­per­a­ment.

A cow which turned out to be one of my bet­ter an­i­mals nearly went off on a truck the year she pro­duced a daugh­ter with sim­i­lar ten­den­cies. Her calf was a night­mare, al­ways run­ning off in the wrong di­rec­tion de­spite her mother's calm­ness. The cow stayed in the herd only be­cause the very good bull to which she was mated was in­jured early in the mat­ing pe­riod and her preg­nancy was one of only nine he achieved. That was lucky; she now has three daugh­ters in the breed­ing herd, all with lovely na­tures.

Tem­per­a­ment in the yards be­comes an im­por­tant mea­sure­ment too. Any calf which gets really ex­cited and un­man­age­able gets noted for later ref­er­ence and usu­ally comes to my at­ten­tion again. Sim­i­larly, calm an­i­mals are noted and reg­u­larly ap­pear again as quiet and easy to han­dle.

Skit­tish­ness in the race in­di­cates an an­i­mal which will al­ways cause has­sles dur­ing yard­ing, cre­at­ing trou­ble for me dur­ing in­sem­i­na­tion pro­ce­dures. Oc­ca­sion­ally we've found really scatty an­i­mals are sur­pris­ingly eas­ily han­dled in the yards; the op­po­site, quiet in the pad­dock and silly in the

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