Monday, November 23, 2015

Not So Little Anymore

"The only thing constant in life is change." 
Francois de la Rochefoucauld
French author of maxims and memoirs 

I see the truth of that maxim demonstrated every time I see our granddaughters. And even when we're doing the same farm tasks yet again, the miracle of change and growth is startling.

Last February, I took a photo of Calf No. 515 and her mom on a cold February day in the corral east of our house. She was the first calf born to No. 3004, a heifer. After 9 months of feasting on mother's milk, she was back from the pasture on a journey in which she, too, will become a heifer on the County Line. (Her first calf should be born in 2017.)

Dr. Dayul Dick from Prairie Vista Veterinary Clinic came earlier this month to treat the 101 calves born during the 2015 calving season. He and his assistant, Katie, arrived with their "doctor's office on wheels," a toolbox attached in the back of his pickup.

We had brought the calves and their mamas home from pastures earlier this month. After weaning them from their mothers, it was time for their "well-child checks," kind of like those doctor visits for our young children.
As the calves go through the working chute, Randy decides whether or not he wants to keep the heifers as part of our cow-calf herd. He's looking at size and confirmation. No. 515 made the "cut." She had grown a bit since February, don't you think?

To those heifers that we may retain in our herd -- like No. 515, No. 505 and about 28 others -- Dr. Dick gave a calfhood vaccination to prevent brucellosis, also known as "bangs."
No. 505 in February
This disease causes abortion or premature calving. The vaccination must be performed by an accredited veterinarian, in compliance with state and national regulations. He used a device to "tattoo" the animal in its right ear to show it had received the brucellosis vaccination.
No. 505 in November - 9 months later and several hundred pounds bigger!
Then he used green ink to mark the tattoo.
He added a numbered orange band, but those can fall out. 
The tattooing provides a more permanent mark. The veterinary clinic will turn the numbers in to state and federal regulators.
The calves also are given a blackleg booster shot. Blackleg is a highly fatal disease of the skeletal and heart muscle of cattle. We also give a combination shot that prevents leptospiriosis and BVD. Leptospiriosis is an bacterial infection that may cause abortion or stillbirth. BVD stands for Bovine Viral Diarrhea - 'nuff said. Dr. Dick also gave a shot as a dewormer to control parasites like worms, lice and liver flukes.

Cattlemen want to produce healthy cattle. It's better for the cattle, and it's also better for the bottom line. Just like we gave recommended vaccinations to our children, we believe it's important to give our cattle every medical advantage to have a healthy life.

We humans take medicines to lower our blood pressure and lower our cholesterol and for a myriad of other conditions. We take medications when we are sick to help us get better. It's the same principle for the animals we care for. It's part of our stewardship of the animals to provide the best care possible.

Last May, when we worked calves before sending them to pasture with their mamas, we had added a new "fashion" accessory - an insecticide tag (blue tag in the right ear.)
Some of the calves had already lost those tags, but Randy cut off any that remained since they no longer were effective. 

After each calf went through the chute, they joined their buddies in another pen.
Now they are dining on silage and grain in a pasture south of the farmstead. And the journey continues.

"The only thing constant in life is change."

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