New life is sign of spring

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New life is sign of spring

A mother cow cleans up after giving birth to her baby a couple of hours earlier at the Zellitti family farm southeast of Durango.
After separating a calf that hadn’t started nursing from its mother, Barry Zellitti with dog Gus take the calf to the barn to check its condition.
Terry Zellitti drives his truck to the feeding area at the Zellitti family farm, and the cattle follow him with hungry stomachs.
Barry Zellitti carries a calf after separating it from its mother. The calf hadn’t started nursing, so it was being taken to the barn to be given colostrum and to be nursed back to health.
Barry Zellitti separates a protective mother cow from her calf. The baby, born late the day before, had not started nursing. Barry Zellitti tried to get the calf the night before, but the mother chased him up a tree.
Martha and Barry Zellitti hold a calf while keeping a close eye on the mother as they place a tag on the newborn’s ear.
Calves must get colostrum from their mother’s milk immediately after birth, and, during calving season, the Zellitti family keeps a close watch to make sure nature is taking its course. If there is a problem with the mother or the calf they will hand-feed the calf.
Barry Zellitti, right, talks with his brother Terry, between chores at the family farm southeast of Durango. Terry takes care of the feeding of over 150 head of cattle as Barry and his wife Martha deal with the calving.
Gus, Barry Zellitti’s dog, is ready to check the cows at the Zellitti family farm southwest of Durango.
Terry Zellitti drives his truck to the feeding area at the Zellitti family farm and the cattle know exactly what’s going on as they follow him with hungry stomachs.
A mother cow stays close to her baby at the Zellitti family farm southeast of Durango.
A newborn calf is fed colostrum by Martha Zellitti after it hadn’t nursed from its mother.
As spring calving season makes its way through the the Zellitti family farm, calves of many colors begin appearing on the landscape.

Driving through La Plata County, one can’t help but notice all the fresh little faces of all different colors with big eyes and wobbly legs. It’s that time of year again: spring calving for area ranchers.

At the Zellitti family ranch, southeast of Durango, it’s in full swing.

Barry Zellitti, his wife, Martha, and his brother, Terry, literally have their hands full dealing with about 150 mostly Angus, Hereford and mixed-breed mother cows.

All through the day and night, calves emerge. When they do, an identifying tag is placed on their ears and then a close eye is kept on calf and mother.

The Zellitti ranch was first homesteaded in 1902 by Barry’s great uncle and grandfather near County Road 300. Barry’s father, Anthony Zellitti, and his mother, Marilyn, still are active and the bosses on the ranch.

Barry, Terry and their brother Gary were raised around cattle, working in the fields past dark and then coming in to milk the family’s dairy cows. The family called it quits in the dairy business in 1998, and now are just in the hay and beef cattle business. Gary has his own ranch operations just down the road.

“The market is pretty good right now for heifers since Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico got some moisture and ranchers are starting to rebuild their herds,” said Barry Zellitti. “I think this is the greatest life there is: living and raising kids on the farm. It teaches the kids about the cycle of life and the rewards of hard work.”

La Plata County ranks 38 out of 64 counties in the state in value of agricultural products sold, said Christy Lightcap, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

The county sold $19.8 million worth of agricultural products in 2007, according to the last survey available. Cattle was the No. 1 commodity, then hay and nursery stock, Lightcap said.

Tom Sabel, an agricultural statistician with the USDA/Colorado Agriculture Statistics Service, said that as of January 2011, there were about 21,000 head of cattle in La Plata County with 13,200 breeding cows.

La Plata County ranks 26th for the number of cattle in the state.

jm@durangoherald.com

New life is sign of spring

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A mother cow cleans up after giving birth to her baby a couple of hours earlier at the Zellitti family farm southeast of Durango.
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After separating a calf that hadn’t started nursing from its mother, Barry Zellitti with dog Gus take the calf to the barn to check its condition.
purchase
Terry Zellitti drives his truck to the feeding area at the Zellitti family farm, and the cattle follow him with hungry stomachs.
purchase
Barry Zellitti carries a calf after separating it from its mother. The calf hadn’t started nursing, so it was being taken to the barn to be given colostrum and to be nursed back to health.
purchase
Barry Zellitti separates a protective mother cow from her calf. The baby, born late the day before, had not started nursing. Barry Zellitti tried to get the calf the night before, but the mother chased him up a tree.
purchase
Martha and Barry Zellitti hold a calf while keeping a close eye on the mother as they place a tag on the newborn’s ear.
purchase
Calves must get colostrum from their mother’s milk immediately after birth, and, during calving season, the Zellitti family keeps a close watch to make sure nature is taking its course. If there is a problem with the mother or the calf they will hand-feed the calf.
purchase
Barry Zellitti, right, talks with his brother Terry, between chores at the family farm southeast of Durango. Terry takes care of the feeding of over 150 head of cattle as Barry and his wife Martha deal with the calving.
purchase
Gus, Barry Zellitti’s dog, is ready to check the cows at the Zellitti family farm southwest of Durango.
purchase
Terry Zellitti drives his truck to the feeding area at the Zellitti family farm and the cattle know exactly what’s going on as they follow him with hungry stomachs.
purchase
A mother cow stays close to her baby at the Zellitti family farm southeast of Durango.
purchase
A newborn calf is fed colostrum by Martha Zellitti after it hadn’t nursed from its mother.
purchase
As spring calving season makes its way through the the Zellitti family farm, calves of many colors begin appearing on the landscape.
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