a story of Southern agriculture


Is it your goal to develop your bovine gestation visual analysis skills, today? ;o)  Do you want to be able to more confidently identify the pregnant bovine in your neighborhood, on your commute and on this blog?  In this episode of As the Pasture Turns – a fall calving season drama, we’re going to point out pregnant cows.

It’s all you’ve ever dreamed of, I know!…and you probably never realized it until today.  That’s why I’m here for ya – you have bovine adventures yet untaken.

Possibly you’ve never actually seen a pregnant cow, though you’ve probably heard her mentioned before in not so nice ways…which really isn’t fair to her or the recipient of the comment.  The cows and I do not understand why humans (particularly adolescent humans) use them to tease.

It must be the level of- forgive me – imooturity at that age.

None of us were ever that kid, right?  Right.

Today, even if you’re only reading to satiate your curiosity about the veracity of the tease,

Veracity is such a great word.  It’s more fun than accuracy.

I’m going to show you a mostly full-proof, hands-free way of pregnancy checking.

So, how do we visually distinguish the pregnant cows from the open ones?

Open = not bred = not pregnant.

Here’s what my Farmer taught me years ago:

Cows gestate for about 9 months.  Actually, he said, “283 days, which is 9 months and 1 week and 6 days, and some researchers say it’s 285 days, so that would be 9 months, 2 weeks and 1 day – of course we are assuming 30 day months here…” – and my Farmer can just go on and on about bovine minutia.

I do love this about him.  But what you’re about to read, is my mostly accurate, no need to split hairs, fully useful interpretation of his vast knowledge of cattle gestation.  Here it goes….

Farmer: Cows gestate for about 9 months.  For fall calving the bulls come visit the herd at New Year’s and stay until Valentine’s Day or thereabouts.  You can do the math – this holiday party yields sweet baby bovine for the fall calving season.

Me: And just for clarification, calve/calving = parturition = giving birth

Farmer: Yes.  We cruise through spring and summer here on the farm.  It’s a busy time of making hay while the sun shines, sweating a lot and generally just keeping the cattle from crossing fences they shouldn’t.

Then September rolls around and the cows start looking a little rounder than normal.  They are late in their 3rd trimester and can’t hide it.

pregnant cow-5

Some of you ladies can understand.  It’s simply undeniable and beautiful.  Now if you could just get comfortable.

Next it’s October and we know babies will arrive any day now.  Because we specifically want to be available to help at birth if need be, we are looking for the very, very pregnant cows.

When looking at a cow, it’s all about her direction.  So, the right side is her right side from where she’s standing, not your right side from where you’re standing.

Me: Come again?

Farmer: Simply put, when standing behind a cow and looking at her tail, her right is the right and her left is the left.

Bovine mamas carry their young on the right. Her right.  They carry food on their left.  Her left.

Me: Ok, here’s what I got from that.  This might be a bit oversimplified, but it works in my head.

And if something works in my head, well then you know it’s come a long way – like all the way from formerly, across the farm, down several rabbit trails and back again to this bridge blog to you.  This example ought to carry.

Ought to.

Me: So, Farmer, if we consider the anatomy of the bovine with the anatomy of the alphabet and coordinate letters suiting the shape of the pregnant cow with the first letter of words indicating the pregnancy or forage consumption of said bovine, it’s quite full proof that I’ll  know which mamas to pay attention to during peak parturition periods on the farm, right?

Farmer: What?

Me:  Look here.  Letters have anatomy, too.

pregnant cow-11

pregnant cow-10

Farmer: I see.

Me:  So if we use the stems of the letters “g” and “p” to mark the center of her frame, and then allow the bowl of each letter to follow the curve of her abdomen, then I can distinguish my left from her right.

So, “p” for pregnant – her right side carries the baby bovine.

And “g” for grasses – her left side is the compartments of her stomach full of grasses and other forages.

Farmer: Yes, that will work.  Never thought of it that way, but yes, if that works in your head it’s accurate enough.

Me: Good.  Give me the keys to your truck.  These people want to go check cattle with me and Buddy.  I’m sure of it.

Hope you found this informative!

Now for a pop quiz!  Take a moment to study the last two photos, then hop in the truck.  Here’s what you see from the driver’s seat – decide if the mama is pregnant or not.  Answers will be at the end of the post!


bw pregnant cow


By the way, if you feel awkward tracing alphabet letters in the air across bovine derrière in the distance, just know this is a normal behavior in my world…and for now, whilst you read this blog, go ahead and embrace the normalcy.

I don’t recommend transferring this tactic to the human species – at least not in public settings – surely your mama taught you not to point.

pregnant cow-12

2. She looks awfully young to be a mother…

pregnant cow-4

3. This is a tougher one. Think – her right.

pregnant cow-9

4. Do cows waddle?

pregnant cow-7

5. Nice socks.

pregnant cow-8

6. Sorry, wrong species.

pregnant cow-6

7. Oh, tough angle! And the tail is covering the udders, so you can’t tell if her milk has come in. What a time for modesty to foil your efforts! I’ll bet you guess right, though. (HINT: right).

pregnant cow-5

8. If you miss this one, you are not a mammal.
We call her “oh-eleven”. Not, zero-one-one.
Oh – eleven. Oh-oh-eleven.
She’s oh such a good mama.
Oh, I digress.

5.no – I think that’s a steer (male).  Either way, too young to be a mother.

This post is linked up at:

County Fair Blog Party #8

21 Responses to “Pregnant?”

  1. countrylinked

    LOVE IT!!!! I learned something new! No one has ever told me this before! Okay I might have been told this in one of my Animal Sciences classes in college, but it totally went by me. We are down to the last 4-5 to calve so I will have to wait until next fall to really work on my g’s and p’s. 🙂


  2. Debbie Sustek

    Emily, I enjoyed learning about this, even though I only got half of them right! 😦 Buddy looks so sweet; he reminds me of the border collie mix we had for seventeen years. He was such good company, and Buddy looks like he is, too!


    • Emily Grace

      Hi Debbie! I am beyond thrilled to know you are reading and chatting with me here at our blog! We so want it to be a great experience for all. Buddy is precious – you definitely know good company if you’ve had a Border Collie! Don’t worry about getting a high score on the quiz – it took me several calving seasons to be proficient at spotting them, and even now I miss it. But I do have fun minding my “p’s” and “g’s”. ;o)


  3. Lisa

    I love these photos; especially that first one! Welcome to the blog world. I can tell you’ve got some great things to say. 🙂


  4. Rick Reavill

    Hello Ms. Sustek
    My name is Rick Reavill, I am a semi retired farmer out in Everson Washington.
    …{a private message from Rick to my friend, Debbie, about a dear friend of both of them who died in Vietnam – I’ve edited it out simply because I find it so deeply moving}…

    Peace, Rick


    • Emily Grace

      Dear Rick,
      Your reaching out to my friend, Debbie, via my farm blog site is so incredibly special. My Farmer and I were astounded with your story and shared it with the Sustek’s when we saw them the following Sunday immediately after church services. You are precious – for your service to our country – military and farming – and the burdens you have borne over the years. Military service and farming are two deeply personal and burdensome callings in life. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your life given to both.

      Debbie has received your message from me and written back to you. If you have not received her message – sent to the email address you included – please let me know. She very much wants to communicate with you.

      Emily Grace & My Farmer (:


      • Victor Sustek

        Thank you, Emily. I haven’t received a response from him yet, so I appreciate your reaching out to him, too. Debbie

        Sent from my iPhone



      • Emily Grace

        You’re welcome, Debbie. I also emailed this message directly. Hopefully we will hear back soon. If not, we can do some of our own searching…the email address may have been a digit off or some such typo.


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