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.
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.
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.
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.
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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