March 6, 2016

Working Replacement Heifers

We thought we'd take advantage of Spring like weather and vaccinate some replacement heifers. These are female calves that are about a year old that will breed this year and be used to replace some older cows, mean cows, or poor quality cows on the ranch. Hence the name "Replacement Heifers." The vet comes out and gives them a Bangs vaccine which is for protection against the disease Brucellosis. Brucellosis is a highly contagious disease that causes the animal to abort its calf in the last trimester of pregnancy and then the cow will not re breed. On a cow calf operation like ours, the calves are the source of income. Cow doesn't produce a live healthy calf, no paycheck.

Heifers can be a pain to deal with, but also make me laugh. They are just as rambunctious and silly as school girls! This was probably the second or third time they've been moved by themselves without their moms. They were all over the place, running and jumping like baby colts! We did end up getting them to the barn.
The little cowboy's horse ran off with him because there was so much commotion going on. Luckily he hung on. This horse hadn't been ridden in a while, but we still trusted him to take care of our little cowboy, and although it was a fast run back to the barn, he stayed on! Nothing like making a mom's heart leap!
We absolutely love our corrals. We've finally finished them up... for good! They've only taken us four years to start and finish, so we better like them!

I usually work the head catch on the chute, but the Ranch Hand needed to brand some of these we'd recently gotten from a friend, so I got to do something new. I was in the back, bringing the calves down the alley, into a "Bud Box". This is a small pen like a box, developed by a buy named Bud Williams that allows the cattle to naturally be directed down the next alley towards the chute, if you know how to do it ;) AND I am learning...

Here they are in the Bud Box. I walk straight towards that left corner, then walk clock wise to the next corner and then to the next corner. The alley is located to the left of where I'm standing taking this photo. They end up seeing that alley and walking right down it... most of the time... some of the time... well it does work when the guy or gal and the alley does it right. AND I am learning...

A couple neighbors came to help us out. The little cowboy brought cookies out and shared only with his favorite neighbor who is like a grandpa to him.

We had one that has had a hump in her back. The vet is also a cattle chiropractor of a sort and tried putting her back, back in. We decided not to vaccinate her and she'll be the steak you eat next year when you come visit me!

Badger was doing his best to make sure they went from the chute back to the corrals, all while staying on the other side of the fence. He's funny.

We also semen tested the bulls to make sure they were ready to go in a few months, and branded our latest 84S bull.
Then it was back to the  pasture they went. Not as frisky on the way back. :) Great day working cattle!

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