This cow is predictably named Panda. She came with her twin sister, Abby, from Gillespie Ranch as a yearling over five years ago. She has done everything we have asked. She calves on time, is a great mother, and stays where she is put. She raised a great embryo calf last year, is pregnant with another one and due in a few days.
What really sets Panda apart is how long she ruled the herd. As a two year old, she and Abby took on Molly as a team and won herd boss duties. When we assemble all the herds together every winter for feeding, Panda and Abby sparred and won the rights to the best feed, bedding spots, and pretty much anything else they wanted. They never fought each other and truly ruled as a pair of iron hooves.
Unfortunately for Panda, Abby proved to be an unreliable breeder and was sold earlier this year. At herd assembly time a few weeks ago, Panda still gave it a go to be top cow. Sadly, she did not have a chance against some of the heavier Angus. Typically the Angus are lovers and not much for fighting, but they must have sensed the power vacuum.
While we do everything we can to mitigate sparring, cows have to set their hierarchy. When I saw Panda off by herself for the first few days after a night of losing, I felt bad for her, even though I had seen her rough up countless unsuspecting cows the past several years.
Fortunately, the herd gets things figured out pretty quickly. Panda still has a pretty high spot in the herd, but definitely has lost some of her desire for defending it. She seems focused on eating and staying out of way. Panda also appreciates human company and the inevitable scratching we can provide.
Everything comes full circle, I guess.