Breeding Cows on the Family Homestead

Learn basic obstetrics for the family cow. What you need to know about breeding cows, pregnancy, delivery and recognizing complications.

| May/June 1972

First-time farmers usually do pretty well with gardens, chopping wood and building outhouses . . . but the birth of that first calf or litter of pigs generally sets 'em back a couple of notches. R.J. Holliday DVM, aveterinarian in Missouri and MOTHER contributor, intends to remedy the situation. His tool? A new handbook precisely designed to explain all the animal facts of life in language that new back-to-the-landers can understand.  

MOTHER will serialize the manual as Dr. Holliday completes each chapter and here's the first installment. 


The back-to-the-land movement has mothered all sorts of new talents and has created the need to revive many old, almost forgotten skills. Among the most important of these skills are those which deal with animal husbandry.

Unlike most modern farmers—or Agribusinessmen, as they prefer to be called—the true homesteader is vitally concerned with the creation of a rapport with nature. If he owns animals, he gives them the care and attention that marks a good herdsman. When his livestock are sick he suffers with them and tries to nurse them back to health. Above all, he craves the knowledge that will enable him to develop ever-greater skill in caring for his animals.

This handbook is an attempt to provide the modern homesteader with that knowledge.

Breeding Cows

Whether you have one cow or a hundred, the most critical time on your calendar of herdsman's activities is the calving season. The act of parturition is usually accomplished with a minimum of fuss and bother on a dam's part, but the good herdsman still needs to have an understanding of the normal birth process. He needs to be aware of the problems that can arise at this time and, should it become necessary, he must be able to assist the birth of the calf.

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