Monday, September 23, 2013
A Bit Long in the Tooth
I would be in trouble.
Last week, we rounded up five old cows and took them to the sale at Pratt Livestock. Last fall, as the veterinarian and the guys ran the cow herd through the working chute for a pregnancy check and vaccines, they noted which of the cows were getting to be a bit "long in the tooth." Actually, they were a little "short in tooth," in that they may have lost the majority of their chompers.
Thankfully, I still have the majority of my teeth. But I unexpectedly had another tooth pulled two weeks ago. Besides being painful, it's a bit disconcerting to have yet another reminder of my advancing age and mouth maladies. (Yes, I know there are much worse things.)
I teased Randy that he should have probably reconsidered on the honeymoon, when I had a monster toothache one evening. I came home from our trip to Colorado and promptly had my first root canal. Unfortunately, I've lost count of how many I've had since. And this latest tooth extraction will eventually lead to my second implant. It's not cheap, people!
But I will have to say that the hole in my own mouth may have made me a tad more sympathetic for these grand old "ladies" who've served our farm well. After all, they've likely had eight or 10 baby calves. (They've got me beat for sure.)
As the cows lose their teeth, it makes it harder for them to eat, which may affect both their health and the health of their babies, both before birth and after.
Last fall as these "grand dames" went through the squeeze chute, Randy recorded their ear tag numbers on a sheet of paper. When they had their calves this winter, he added each of their calves' ear tag numbers to the list. As we took cows and calves to summer pasture, we separated these older cows and their offspring. They spent the summer in a pasture south of Jake's house.
Now, with their babies no longer needing their personal "milk machines," Randy weaned the calves early in the week. He kept the calves in one pen and their moms in a neighboring pen. Researchers have found that the calves have less stress when they can see their mamas through the weaning process. Less stress equates to fewer illnesses for the calves.
(Please know that this was written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I can even do that through the hole in my teeth. Just kidding!)