Thursday, April 28, 2011

Job Interview

A bull at the Ninnescah Pasture, June 2010

A job interview is a mighty important piece of getting a job.

A writer might need to bring a portfolio of her work. A potential principal might have to answer questions about how she would discipline little Johnny when he's sent to the office. A secretary might have to compose a letter.

Here on the County Line, it's also important to test bulls for the "job" they need to do. Earlier this month, Dr. Dayul Dick from Prairie Vista Veterinary Hospital and Supply came to test our six bulls through a bull breeding soundness examination.

So, how does this farm wife tell you about this process and keep it PG? Very carefully, I suppose. When Randy "invited" me to attend this doctor's appointment, I told him I wasn't guaranteeing that this would see the light of day in blogland.

This was one job interview I'd never attended before. But Dr. Dick was very matter-of-fact and informative. And he stressed the importance of this annual "job performance" review.

"Quality bulls are a big part of your beef business standard," Dr. Dick said. "It's a good management practice to test bulls before you turn them out into the pasture each spring. Bulls have no value if they can't perform. We also test bulls for cattle operations that plan to sell them in an auction setting or by private treaty."

First, Dr. Dick measured each bull's scrotum and examined it for defects.

He then needed to collect a semen sample using this contraption.

After getting a sample, Dr. Dick had a mobile lab set up in the back of his pickup.

With the first look in the microscope, he was testing the semen for motility, its "swimming" ability to travel to the cow's egg.

Then he smeared the slide with a dye, which killed the sperm. He could then look at morphology, the shape of the sperm. He was looking for abnormalities in the shape, which could indicate a problem with the ability to breed.

After those tests, he gave each bull vaccinations to keep them healthy during their summer in the pasture. It's similar to giving our children vaccinations for their optimal health.

The Novartis Vira Shield protects against at least 10 bacteria and viruses that cause respiratory and reproductive diseases. The Ultrabac 7 helps prevent blackleg, while another vaccine prevents pink eye.

The pour-on product is a dewormer.

All the bulls passed and are ready for action, so to speak. Five of them were put in with the heifers on April 21. On Saturday, one will remain with the heifers, while the other four will go with cows to pasture.

Photo taken June 2010

The verdict: The bulls are hired for yet another year on the County Line.

And this morning, I'm again off to help sort the mamas and the babies for their travels to summer pasture. More on that later ...

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