Wednesday, April 8, 2015
From Human Baby to Bovine Babies
Springtime means it's time to "work" baby calves. That may sound like we're sending them off to collect a paycheck. But it really means that we are doing the work by sorting, hauling and doctoring the baby calves.
When Jill and Brent were infants, I took them to well-child checks at the pediatrician. They were different than the last-minute appointments we made for ear infections and other ailments. Well-child checks were designed for the pediatrician to evaluate their health status and give any recommended vaccinations.
Our baby calves undergo a similar process each spring. For this appointment, Randy fulfills the role of "physician's assistant." He certainly doesn't have the education of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. We do use a veterinarian for many of our cattle herd's health needs. But this is a task that Randy does, with help from Jake and me.
The process starts by gathering the mama cows and the calves. The method varies, depending on the location. To work the calves at Peace Creek, we use 4-wheelers to drive the cows and calves a half mile to the corrals and working chute. (We haven't done that this year yet.)
But, for the other three locations, we gather the cows and calves into a corral and then sort the babies from the mamas. As I've said before, I skip trying to photograph this process. I need my hands free while trying to send mamas back to the corral and keep the babies from following along.
The mamas end up with that "first-day-of-kindergarten" feeling being separated from their babies.
Then, the baby calf and his friends got Tic-Tac-sized growth implants in their ears. Ralgrow is a hormone that stimulates the pituitary gland and helps the calf grow.
The bull calves also become steers during their time in the chute. (The following series of three photos was taken another day, but they were better quality than the ones I took this year, so I'm using them instead.)
Randy makes an incision in the sac.
He pulls the testicles through the incision.
And then he cuts the cords, adding a squirt of iodine for germ control.
With all the steps done, No. 529 rejoins his fellow "class"mates - none the worse for wear.
We sent them back to a nearby pasture to await their transport to greener summer pastures in May.