Well, the girls are staying after all. I’ve been teasing them for months now that they were going to a sale. At the last minute, I realized that to be in the sale, the cows had to have calf on the side or be about to calf. So, they’re staying. We have Wagyu embryos, so our vet will use those in short order. In the meantime, we got around to branding them.
As for the million bulls we’ve had this year, I haven’t decided yet where they’ll go. At the moment, four of our six-month-old bulls are at Fresno State program getting ready to be working bulls. Since the program gets a lot of calls for bulls, they may be able to sell them for us. They feed them so well they gain three pounds a day!
Using and improving the chute
We’re getting better all the time at putting the cows through the chute for treatment and worming. Notice I said we’re getting better. The cows are the smart ones. Going through anything strange, they think they’re going to get killed. Of course, we’re just trying to help them.
Following Temple Grandin’s blueprints, I made a humane chute for the cows a few years ago. But one cow said, “No way. No chute,” and busted down a five-foot fence. Good thing no one got hurt—but I realized it needed to be higher. I got the idea to dig down a foot to make it higher and took out tons of dirt. At six feet, I doubt she can jump it now and that should keep her in. If it doesn’t, we will send her to England for the Grand National steeplechase.
Moooving through the chute
Cows are herd animals that don’t like being separated. We’ve found if you leave one on their own, all hell breaks loose. One of our favorites, she’s been nursing 2 cows, very friendly. At 1,700 pounds, she has jumped the gate and broken three gates. “I don’t do chutes,” she told me.
They don’t like being alone. But if one goes the right way, they’ll follow the leader. So I’ve put in some gates to break them up better. There’s a sorting area, and we put them in groups of three and four, then two and one. The last three go together. I also like to put them next to the chute for 30 minutes just to chill them out and bring their heart rate down. It’s more humane and less dangerous for everyone.
We’ve done a rodeo every Saturday for the last month to brand all the cows and any babies over two months old. We had six of us including Tug and spent a couple of hours each day.
It’s hard work, but we all did good. The cows did too. The last day went the best.
Sometimes cows get out of the pasture, so it’s good to have them identified as ours. They say branding hurts less when they’re younger. I didn’t believe it, but after some of the cows yelled, one of the little guys didn’t even move. The brand is a lot smaller for the younger ones, about 1.5″ across instead of four.
While everyone was going through the chute, we gave one of our girls some bling. 88A came with her mother when she was about 6 months old. When the next baby was born, we had to separate them because she kept drinking the mother’s milk. Now 88A is a big cow with her own calf and is still stealing milk. So we gave her a nose ring that has little barbs that poke anyone she tries to steal milk from, and they push her away.
She looks like a million dollars. She wants diamonds next.