WYOBRASKA – Do you have calves in your bathtub? Do you let the calves sleep with you? Did you share a picture of those moments on Facebook or Instagram? That question may not be as odd as it seems. Exploration of those platforms has led to a little-talked about benefit of social media in the world of ranchers.
This reporter is a member of a Facebook group called Nebraska Through the Lens, which “is a site for photographs of Nebraska. This group is all about photographing all aspects of Nebraska, this includes farming and ranching.” Questions started to arise after seeing picture after picture of just born, or recently born calves. “Why are there so many?” I said to myself. I started investigating.
“I think it’s just the joy of calving season is upon us,” Douglas Olsen at Olsen Ranches said. “Ranchers enjoy calving season to see the fresh new calves come.”
“It’d be the same as if somebody’s playing sports and likes to post pictures of their games. I mean it’s a big important part of your life and you’re saving these little lives and this is really something that’s exciting and wonderful and you share it,” said Laura Gray at Gray’s Angus Ranch. “It’s a very demanding type of project that you got going and you just are really happy when you got live ones and everything worked good and then want to share it.”
Paula Brown, Ranch Hand at Brown’s Angus Ranch and Vitalize Dealer at BioZyme Incorporated said, “when a cute little calf is born or you have to pull a calf or something is very heartwarming or heart touching or even sad, it gets posted on Facebook.”
Christine Miller at M Lazy Heart Ranch said, “It’s just like a culmination of all the last years work and I think people just want to share that as part of their lifestyle.”
However, sharing photos is only the start. Social media provides a platform where ranchers from around the world can connect with each other and share solutions to problems that might arise.
“Some of them are commenting on the challenges that they’re facing with trying to get as many of those calves alive and safe and cared for as they can,” said Olsen.
“That’s how we ask questions because most of the people on our Facebook pages, work just like we do,” said Brown. “When we’re really all under stress and like during that cold spell. ‘How did you save your baby’s ears? What techniques are you using to save your baby’s ears?’ Stuff like that. It’s a sign of relief for a lot of us saying, ‘oh, I’m not the only one going through this right now.’”
Another benefit of the worldly reach is the sale of livestock. “We share calf pictures on our social media because we sell show cattle and to sell show cattle, we need a reach that goes outside of our area and social media is a great way to do it,” said Miller. Using social media for this purpose is a good way to get information out to a large audience in a short amount of time.
And it doesn’t end there. One of the biggest reasons for posting pictures is education.
“It’s important for farmers and ranchers to tell their story and social media is a great tool to do that,” said Colby Ochsner from J & J Ochsner Livestock. “As people get further and further away from the family farm and production agriculture, there’s a lot of misnomers out there about what it is.”
Ochsner explained that because of COVID, more and more people are becoming curious about where their food comes from and how it’s raised.
“It’s important for more and more people to really know and appreciate the work and the time that goes into that,” said Ochsner. “I think that maybe just helps folks really appreciate it a little bit more when they bite into a hamburger or eat a steak to know that somebody worked really hard to bring that to their table.”