Getting calves through those all-important first few weeks takes skill, patience and devotion.
It’s a labour of love and a unique task – one that can be both frustrating and satisfying as you attempt to steer your new charges from birth to weaning.
It’s a job that generations of farmers have become adept at – despite what sometimes feels like the best efforts of your calves to thwart you!
Here are some aspects that we reckon will strike a chord with anyone involved with the endeavour
1 Sweet and sour
You always smell of milk that’s gone off. No matter how many times you wash, that smell never seems to go away. It is in your hair, on your clothes, in your car. You get so used to it, you almost begin to like it…
2 Keep your powder dry
The smell of milk powder may be heavenly, but it gets everywhere… and you’re also so fed up of weighing powder that you never want to bake a cake EVER again.
3 Handy tips
Not a day goes by when you don’t have to coax one little blighter to drink. In fact, it is a surprise you have any fingers left.
4 Weather watching
The autumn months can be plagued with the dreaded pneumonia. You work hard to prevent it, but it sometimes feels as though no sooner is your sick pen empty than another calf gets ill. Keep your fingers crossed for cold, dry weather – the last thing you want is yet more rain and humidity.
5 Picking the bucket
You’re good at crawling in and out of hutches to retrieve missing buckets. Like a contortionist, you can squeeze through the smallest spaces and most awkward corners.
6 On the run
You can be spotted chasing an escapee around the yard at least once a week. Who needs to go to the gym when you can do exercise like this? You’ll be able to do the 100m in 10 seconds flat soon at this rate. The tanker driver must think you’re nuts.
7 Causing an upset
You can never eat a chicken korma without the resemblance it bears to calf scour crossing your mind. Naan bread, anyone?
8 Dressed to kill
If you think it’s hard to dress a wriggling baby, just try fitting calf coats. They will not stay still. And taking them off when they reach weaning is lots of fun too…