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      Women help save lives on the farm

      It is still winter, but now is the start of spring calving season in Mid-Missouri.

      â??This time of year when a farmer has cows calving he sleeps a lot less,â?? says Boone County farmer Ben Voeller who keeps a close eye on his pregnant heifers this time of year.

      It's a critical time. Raising calves is where the profit comes in a cow-calf operation. A farmer's bottom line at the end of the year will be largely affected by how many cows have a live calf.

      While most cows give birth in the field, heifers having their first calf often need assistance. Learning to spot when a cow is in the early stages of labor is important because when something goes wrong during calving it can mean the life of the cow, the calf, or both.

      Robin Bullard remembers a bad day on her family's farm in Ashland last spring. â??We just got done having dead twin calves that we had to pull out afterwards."

      She's hoping this year will be different. That's why Robin came to a recent calving clinic in Boonville put on by the University of Missouri Extension. This class was designed just for women to be a safe place to learn.

      Through what they learned in a PowerPoint presentation and with hands-on activities, these women learned skills that can make a life or death difference when calving begins and after a calf is born.

      â??You really can make a difference intervening in the majority of calving cases on your own farm without getting a veterinarian out there,â?? says veterinarian Dawna Voelkl a reproduction specialist at the University of Missouri. â??So there is a lot that you can do it's just knowing what's normal what's abnormal when to intervene and then what you can do without calling a vet... which is a lot.â??