June 29, 2014

Doctoring Cows

 We have our cows on summer pasture too far from corrals and a chute to doctor cattle if they get sick.  Our favorite way to doctor sick cattle is to rope them from our horses. Honestly this used to make me nervous. And with good reason, a 1000-1300 pound animal verses, well, me. My sixth grade daughter is only about 6 inches from passing me in height. I've been the one on the ground holding the animal and giving shots, and I've been the one in the saddle in charge of keeping the ropes tight while my husband doctors the animal. If you are on the ground your life is in the other person's hands. If the rope loosens, the animal can get up or your partner can get caught in the ropes. Either way it has always made me nervous. Not to mention the pressure on me to actually rope something! Last year we spent over an hour waiting for me to catch the heels, AFTER Daniel had already caught the head. But this day I had more confidence and caught after the first few loops.

See, see! You can see my rope around that cow's heels.

We stretch it out tight so it can't move.

No animals were hurt in the making of this post. Gotta doctor sick animals soon, before it spreads to the whole herd. Next time I'll get a picture of doctoring a lump jaw ... you'll like that.

We worked on a big cattle ranch in Nebraska where one cowboy was in charge of more than a thousand animals. There is a way to doctor an animal by yourself, on one horse. I got some pictures of Daniel doing this once. This just amazes me. You must have a horse you can  trust completely, your life is in his hands, or hooves.

You start with a long rope, 50 or 60 feet. I have a hard time holding that much rope.  You rope the cow around it's head and slowly start circling the animal with your long rope. The animal needs to be calm and holding still. After you get completely around the cow you dallie, (wrap your rope around the saddle horn,) and ride away. The rope is now squeezing in around all four feet. The cow's natural reaction is to jump the rope with her front feet. This causes a loop to circle around both back feet. Now you have your cow by the head, by the feet, and lying on the ground.

You tie your rope off to your horse. Once again you've got to have a good trust worthy horse to do this. Then you take tie strings and tie the front feet together, and the back feet together. Then you can take the rope off the cow's neck so she doesn't choke.

Doctor the cow as needed.

To let the cow go you lie over the cow from it's back with it's tail between it's legs and untie first the front legs and then the back. The horse still has the back legs tight just in case. Walk to your horse, get on and put some slack in your rope, cow gets up, unharmed and on it's way to better health!

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  1. It's amazing to see what kind of talent and know how goes into ranching. If I did this I would have to call you like every hour to know what to do next! :)


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