Local Farmers See High Death Rate Among Calves Due To Spring Weather
The weather this spring is something to be remembered, but for local farmers, it’s one they wish they could just forget.
“They are my babies – it was really sad,” said Gary Stockman, a local hobby farmer. “You feel bad and you feel like you are not doing something right; I even have a barn they can calve in, and it didn’t matter.”
On his small hobby farm, Gary Stockman has lost 18 calves this season.
“Probably sitting at a 50 percent death loss,” Stockman said.
The weather was stressful on both the moms and their newborns.
“The first calf heifers were so touchy that they wouldn’t allow the calves to nurse because of the cold weather; they were really nervous,” Stockman said.
For next door neighbor John Teune, he says after 50 years in the business, this is the worst spring he has ever experienced.
“I’ve never calved cows through weather like this; normally in April, you might get a day or two of storms and you can deal with that, but it was just continuously cold, snowy and the wind blowing never quit,” said Teune, owner of Teune Farms in Pine River.
In order to save as many calves as possible, Teune was putting the newborns into his truck and taking them to a warm place before bringing them back out into the field.
“We were out here 24 hours a day trying to keep them alive and we got tired,” Teune said. “You get tired and worn after a while.”
John lost 40 calves, and most of them were just two or three days old. For others that survived, their feet were frozen, and it has led to numerous infections.
Speaking about one calf, Teune said, “I don’t think he will ever amount to anything – he is healthy now, but he is never going to be a good steer.”
Even though the future for some calves seems grim, Teune says he will continue to do his best for them and is remaining optimistic for brighter days ahead.
“I’ll get up tomorrow morning just like I did this morning and just keep going forward,” Teune said.