As Katelyn noted yesterday, it’s already beginning to feel like spring. That means a lot around here, but I doubt anyone appreciates this transition more than the sanctuary’s bovines.
Every year, the small herd of four rescued Jersey cattle spend the winter in an enclosed paddock on the northern side of the property. This area contains their main barn (and a couple secondary shelters) where caregivers provision them with grass hay, alfalfa, water, minerals, and supplementary grain.
As the days get longer and warmer, the Moo Crew begin to spend more of their time roaming around the paddock and sunbathing. The muddy brown landscape slowly develops a tinge of lime green and the bovines venture into the creek to browse.
It won’t be until May that the pastures are mature enough to support these large herbivores. (There are several tests that we do to verify that the prairie grasses are ready.) At that time, the crew will pick a day for “The Running of the Cows“– the opening of the gateways to the larger grazing areas— and the bovines will be on their merry way to ruminant bliss.
With that being said, there is always a lot of work to be done before we can safely turn them out for the summer. First, the cattle need their annual visit from the hoof trimmer who makes sure their feet are ready for another year of strenuous trips around the hilly property. Dr. Erin also uses this as an opportunity to give them their annual vaccinations and quick physical exams.
Finally, the fencing itself usually needs a minor facelift. This task will be more difficult than ever this year due to the ongoing expansion of Young’s Hill and construction of The Bray, both of which will now occupy what was once cattle pasture. Instead, the bovines will most likely get access to the wooded farmland further up the slope which we will have to enclose with suitable electric fencing.
Last week, I took some photos of the cattle enjoying a couple fresh bales of hay in their winter paddock.
Betsy and Honey:
While the bovines have been serenely waiting for pasture, the chimps seem particularly excited about the human activity around Young’s Hill. This afternoon, J.B. hosted some familiar faces who have volunteered to help furnish the new outdoor areas. As is tradition, the tour was mirrored by a few curious chimpanzees. (Unsurprisingly, one of them had to scout out everyone’s footwear.)
Volunteers Tom, Greg, Steve and Brian, with Jamie Chimpanzee & Co. in the background:
This spring will be busy and challenging, but it’s exciting to utilize more of the property and give the chimps and bovines some new experiences!