Branding Day

One of the big jobs of spring is working calves.  Just like humans, cattle need to have vaccinations to boost their immunity against diseases and keep them healthy.  While we have the calves caught we also brand them and give them a fly tag.  It takes extra help to get everything done efficiently.

The day starts early with a good cup of coffee!  After that we head out to feed the pairs that are not going to be worked, the cows yet to calf and the replacement heifers.

The Rancher requested that our help be here and ready to gather pairs at 6:30 am.  The fleet of 4-wheelers go out and bring cattle into the working lots.

May 14

1.  Cows and calves are sorted and separated.

2.  The calves are moved to a small holding pen that funnels down to the calf cradle or calf working chute.

3.  After we work a few calves we stop for coffee and sandwiches.  J is visiting with one of the neighbors helping us for the day.

May 14

1.  This is a picture of a calf entering the cradle.  The cradle is layed over on its side and the calf worked.  B, in the red shirt, is another neighbor that helps us on cattle working days.

2.  This is a picture of one calf getting worked.  We all do our job accurately and quickly.

J’s Mom, far left and wearing a black jacket, tags each calf with a fly tag.  The tags help protect calves against summer time flies.

3.  J’s Cousin, T, gives a shot and castrates the bull calves.  I also give a vaccination shot.

4.  J brands the calves to identify them as our cattle.  J’s Dad holds the hind leg to prevent the calf from moving while it is getting branded and to keep the leg out of the way for Cousin T.

May 14

1.  This calf is the next in line to get worked.

2.  The cradle is lifted back upright and the calf released.

3.  These calves worked and ready to go back to their mothers.

After all the calves in a bunch are worked we turn them in with the cows and take them back to the pasture they came from.

When all the work is done we head in for a late dinner. J’s Mom and I prepared a traditional branding day feast.  Beef and Pork Roasts, mashed potatoes and gravy, 3 different salads, a veggie tray, homemade buns and dessert.

After dinner we clean up and put all our branding supplies away.  Later in the day we go out and check cattle to make sure everyone got paired back up.  Sometimes, we have to help the calves find their mothers again.

Last Saturday we went to Cousin T’s to brand his calves.

May 14

1.  A neighbor brought three of his kids to push calves.  Work ethic is taught to youth at an early age.  By the time most Ag kids are in upper elementary school and middle school they are priceless help.  These kids had fun pushing calves and joking around in the back.

2.  Cousin T castrating a bull.  T’s Dad had the job of castrating before he retired from Ranching.

3.  T’s wife and a neighbor putting in fly tags.  We had a beautiful day to brand calves.

4.  Branding irons in the fire.

5.  Cousin T’s Son is attending school to become a mechanic.  His dream is to ranch with his parents.  Someday, he will be the Fourth Generation on their family ranch.

Working calves a long busy day.  By evening we are ready for a shower and a soft chair. Branding is an important task to maintaining a healthy calf crop.  Healthy calves produce healthy beef for you to eat.

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12 Responses to Branding Day

  1. Kim says:

    I loved seeing all the photos from your cattle working/branding day. It looks like quite an efficient team! I especially liked seeing the branding photos, since that’s different from our farm. And, as I’ve said before, you are a Farm Wife Superwoman to be able to work outside all morning AND get a huge meal on the table, too.

  2. Nancy says:

    Wow. Now that is a good days work. I love how everyone helps everyone else and each person knows their job. Wonderful photos and info. I don’t eat beef much but when I do…yum yum. So, thank you!!

    • Robyn says:

      Glad to hear you enjoy eating beef!
      It is neat to watch and be part of a good team while working cattle.

  3. Linda says:

    Loved reading and seeing the pics! Here most ranchers still use horses and lariats and the old branding irons in the fire. I was able to help at a branding a few years back….they always have young boys and girls to handle the calves….and every one knows their jobs and it does run like a well oiled machine. And also a huge meal after! I just love it all! You are blessed!

    • Robyn says:

      J had a horse and sold it when we were first married. We just don’t have the time to ride and use a horse like it should be used. The 4-wheeler is much faster and a more efficient use of our time. I didn’t grow up around horses, but have always had a soft spot for them. There are sunny Sunday afternoons that I think to myself “What a beautiful day for a ride.”

      J’s family roped and branded calves when he was young, but have been using the calf cradle since J was in High School. When I grew up Mom and Dad always used the calf cradle. It takes a lot of people to rope and drag.

      Thank You for stopping in and leaving your comments. We are located in South Dakota.

  4. J. Rhoades says:

    Great pics Robin! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Candy C. says:

    Loved seeing all your pictures! 🙂
    My hubby just went and helped the folks we get our beef from with working calves this past Sunday. We still use horses and ropes here because of the rough country that the cattle are in. Hubby said the road into the pasture was one of the worst he has ever seen! LOL!!

  6. Carol says:

    Fantastic photography and explanation about the process ~ you guys ‘work really hard’ for a living ~ I commend you ~

  7. Bruce says:

    It’s great seeing real working farm life. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Gwen says:

    Looks like a fun day, glad you had good weather as it’s pretty hard to reschedule these things!

  9. Teresa says:

    I could never do it. I can’t even tag my “livestock”.

  10. Wow, what an amazing process, and one that probably hasn’t changed a lot over the last 50 years. I love all your photos, it makes me feel like I’m right there with you! And your supper sounds delish! Thanks Robyn for coming over and sharing on Rurality this week!

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