Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Am I glowing?"

One reason why our ranch is so productive and trusted is because of the amount of time and research we put into each cow to make sure they are pregnant by the bull we intended and free of all diseases.  Thankfully, since I've been at the ranch, preg checking has graduated from the less glamorous glove test to a prick in the tail and a small blood sample.  With this sample we find out if our Mama cow is indeed a Mama and we can also check for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea ( glamorous I know)  If we have a cow that has been "open" or not able to get pregnant for more than one year we run this BVD test since one of the more common symptoms is abortion and infertility.  Anyhoo, back to preg checking...

This is an all day deal that we couple with our weaning so there is significantly less stress on the pairs. So once we have the babies in their pasture we work the cows one by one.

Into the chute for the vaccinations.  These vaccinations are given to prevent blacklegMaligmant Edema, Enterotoxemia, haemophilus somnus, and a wormer against adult liver Flukes ( I know that was a lot of technical jargon but I wanted those who wondered about what all those vaccines were for to have as much information as they needed!! ).

After that we call in the big guns!  Hoag's younger sister, Emma, is a nurse at our local children's hospital . Since she is a little handier with a needle and possesses the patience only a kid nurse has we stick her on the back in to find the elusive vein that runs through the tail.  Luckily there are fewer nerves in the tail so the cattle barely feel it.

The really hard part about this job is holding the dang tail up . I watched Hoag and Cowboy John hold the tail up cow after cow after 159 cows and I fancy myself a pretty tough chick so I thought I'd give it a try.  Two damaged arms and a lot of grunting later, I thanked both our cowboys for having such a tough day without complaining, tucked my tail and my ego between my legs and went back to the front of the chute where I happily gave my vaccinations.

After we get all the samples from the cows, we'll ship off the blood to a lab where they'll send us the results of who's bred and who's not and whether the cows we specified for the BVD testing are negative or not. 

All this information helps us determine what our calving season will be like come the fourth week of February and what cows may needed to be culled off the herd and if we have any bulls that are underperforming. ( Settle down boys, it happens to everyone!)
It also helps me determine that I need to lift more weights and hay bales so I can be as strong as our cowboys... or at least put up a valiant effort when it comes to tail holding.