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Calving season is a busy time for ranchers

By Staff | Mar 23, 2012

Calving season is nearing its end in Pierce County. For one ranch family it was an unusual season.

At the Richard and Faye Hoffart Ranch west and south of Rugby, there were a couple of surprises. First their cows gave birth to nine sets of twins.

“It’s nice to get a couple of sets of twins so that if there is a mother who lost her calf, she will have a calf to nurse,” said Hoffart. “But nine sets,” he laughs.

He has been at the calving business for quite a few years now and thought he had seen it all until this season.

One of his cows gave birth to a calf on February 27 and it was kind of small at 66 lbs. It was a heifer.

Soon, as is the practice at the Hoffart ranch, the mother and baby were moved to the home place a mile away, where Richard’s parents Pete and Kate live. Pete and Kate are retired, but they kind of enjoy the little calves, according to their son. That is a good thing, because when those twin calves get hungry, there are a couple more sets of hands to help feed them.

Twenty days after #914 (not the number of calves, but its tagged number) was born, Hoffart asked his wife why one of the calves was left dirty. She said she hadn’t seen it, according to Richard’s side of the story. He took a closer look, checking the cows and was dumbfounded to realize that the mother of #914 had just had another calf born on March 17. This calf was a bull and weighed 102 lbs. (Guess which one was getting all of the nutrition.) When he realized the cow had given birth to twins, he brought the other twin over, but the little bull would have nothing to do with his puny sister. So, they now live in separate pens.

The birth of two calves to the same mother 20 days apart is a bit of an anomaly, but Hoffart explained how it can happen. The same bull bred the cow twice in a matter of 20 days. The first calf was tucked up under the horn when the cow ovulated again and the miracle of calf #914-2 was created.

“A friend told me it couldn’t be,” said Hoffart laughing. “But here it is.”

Hoffart has noticed a few other things different about this season as compared to the last couple of seasons. One is that the cows have more milk this year. Another is that bulls have increased in price.

“Usually you can buy a bull for $5,000-$6,000, but this year they are selling for $7,000 to $9,000,” he said. “What is a guy supposed to do? You need the bulls.”

A third change he noticed is that calves are weighing in about 15 lbs. lighter, as a rule, than last year. He attributes the calves’ lighter weights to the mild winter this year compared to the last two or three winters. The cows didn’t have to eat as much to keep warm.

The Hoffarts raised three children, a daughter, Becky, serving in the Army at Fort Riley, Kansas; two sons, Shane in Denver and Chad in Minnewaukan. The Hoffarts have two grandchildren, with a third one coming soon. Chad’s son, Cody, is attending college, and Becky’s daugher, Aaliyah, is 5. Both love the ranch.

Richard told his daughter that the way things are going at the ranch, maybe she’ll have twins, Nick and Rick.

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