Thursday, November 3, 2011
"Step right up, little lady. It's almost your turn for that annual exam that's a true favorite for every female around."
"What? You've heard from your friends about this appointment?"
"Sorry honey. There's no turning back now. You are in a family way, you know. And it's imperative that you get checked out. Every young mom needs prenatal care for the best possible outcome for baby and mother."
It was the heifers' turn for the appointment with the veterinarian this week. Dr. David Harder did "preg checks" on 34 heifers, a physical examination to determine whether their 2-month rendezvous with the bulls resulted in a pregnancy.
We run the heifers through a lane into a squeeze chute to safely restrain the animal and also to keep the people involved safe. Then Dr. Harder estimates how far along the pregnancy is by the size of the fetus.
Of the 34 heifers we worked on Monday, only 2 were "open" (not carrying a calf). The average fetus size was 5.2 months. So, come the end of January, we should begin having baby calves here on the County Line. That was a 94.1 percent success rate, not bad for the shortened breeding time and during a stressful drought.
Cattle working has gone high-tech these days. Dr. Harder's vet assistant used a laptop computer to record the ear tag of each heifer, the fetus size and the shots given.
We had a printout in our hands before they drove away from the farmstead via their mobile office. (We are not to blame for the struggles of the U.S. Postal Service in spite of the fact that the vet's office saved a stamp. Just so you know.)
We were one person down during the whole doctor's appointment. And I only had to run around a fence once to prevent a heifer from leaping into the wrong lot. Otherwise, it truly couldn't have gone more smoothly.
"Thank you, little ladies, for your cooperation. We humans and your babies thank you."