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KIRK: 'The Annoying Neighbor Kid'

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KIRK: 'The Annoying Neighbor Kid'
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

When I was in the middle of delivering a baby, I didn't need any distractions, especially some annoying neighbor kid pestering me about what I was doing, but cows are a different story.


My husband and I have witnessed snoopy calves hanging around a cow in the throes of calving before, but we've noticed it on several more occasions during this year's calving season. We've dubbed each of these inquisitive calves, "The Annoying Neighbor Kid."

It all starts when we spot a cow from a distance off alone that appears to be calving. We drive over to have a look and find the cow lying down straining and some other cow's calf is standing around observing the calving activity. Maybe the cow is too busy straining, doesn't really care or is just being polite, but most of time the cows ignore the nosy neighbor calves and don't bother to run the young spectators off.

When a curious calf discovers that a potential new playmate is about to arrive, there's a lot of sniffing going on at the air, the cow, the ground and the calf coming out. We've even seen calves do some nose-touching with the unborn calf before the birth sac had been broken. It may be cheap ranch-style entertainment, but my husband and I have fun taking turns filling in the dialogue between an annoying neighbor calf and a cow calving, according to their behavior.

When a cow is lying down and straining, the meddling neighbor calf mills around watching and nosing the air and ground, and acts as if it's asking the cow, "Whatcha doin'?" If the calf is sniffing the front feet and nose coming out but that is still covered in the birth sac, the neighbor calf is likely asking the cow, "What is this stuff?" or "Did you know you got somethin' stuck on your butt?"

The prying young neighbor might strike a conversation with the unborn calf that is beginning to emerge instead: "Whatcha doin' in there?" or "Can you come out and play?"

In some instances, after having just calved, another cow's pesky calf comes over to see what's going on. This is when a fresh calf finally makes it to the outside world, is a little dazed and confused, and not on its feet yet, and an annoying neighbor calf asks the cow, "Can he/she come over and play?" before the new pair has had a chance to bond first. In other cases, the nosy young neighbor might, instead, ask the new calf in the pasture if it can come over before the newcomer has had a chance to stand up.

Most often with annoying neighbor calf situations, we see the new mother cow busying herself with her motherly instincts of licking her baby clean and oblivious to any snoopy calves. These cows seem to tolerate putting up with the calves that belong to other cows that are busy eating hay rather than watching what their calves are doing.

It isn't until the annoying neighbor calf tries to invite itself over for "dinner" that a new mother cow will draw the line. If the neighbor calf tries to mooch milk off the cow, it usually gets the bunt.