Calving Management Course Provides Cattle Handling Experience in Tucson and at the V Bar V

July 21, 2022

Students at the UArizona have a unique opportunity to further their knowledge of calving and cattle handling through the Calving Management course (ACBS 397A). The course is offered during the Spring semester. Students gain a basic background of range cattle reproduction management, as well as hands-on experiences, working with cattle at the UArizona Campus Agricultural Center (CAC) in Tucson and the V Bar V, the UArizona’s working cattle ranch, located in Camp Verde, AZ.

The cows at the CAC begin to calve during the last week of January, this allows for students to dive right in. Students help give neonatal vaccines, ear tag calves for record keeping, and observe normal healthy behavior pre and post calving of cows and calves. Students learn about the phases of calf delivery, assistance for dystocia management, and post-partum cow/calf care.

At the start of the semester students meet for their scheduled class time at the CAC. Each class begins with a structured lecture in a classroom and then relocates outside to the pastures for a hands-on lab experience. Along with calving management students learn about safely working with and around cattle. This includes the low stress handling of cattle. Students learn about flight zones, and how to calmly move the animals and be near the cows without stressing them.

As students become more proficient in their cattle handling, they are able to help with administering annual vaccines, estrus synchronization, artificial insemination, and boostering of vaccines for the calves at 3 months of age. Having cattle located in Tucson for students to work with has increased the amount of hands-on experiences students are able to participate in during the course.

At the end of February, students are invited to the UArizona V Bar V ranch to further their skills. At the ranch students watch heifers during the night for calving and learn to palpate for pregnancy detection and pelvic measurements which support best practices for cow/calf operations. Students benefit from working with long time managers of the V-V, Bopper and Keith Cannon, as well as with Dr. Joslyn Beard, the Livestock Extension Specialist for Arizona.

Course instructor, Amber Hubbell, MS, has been the manager of the beef herd in Tucson for 5 years. She is very passionate about cattle and educating students. About the course, Hubbell says, “My goal for this course is to provide as many hands-on opportunities for students as I can, both during class time and outside of class. Managing the cow herd, has allowed me to utilize them for teaching before going to the ranch where students are exposed to a few hundred head of cattle. I love working with cattle and love sharing that with the students.”