With the last of the calves weaned, it was time for the veterinarian to complete the health check for the year.
We are fortunate to have a local office with stellar professionals that not only have a lot of large animal experience they also show the compassion and ability to treat critters with tender care. The combo is not always easy when an animal gets spooked or worked up from activity that is out of the normal day to day schedule.
Keeping the animals calm makes the veterinarians job easier and it is much easier on the critters, so we lock them into the head stanchions to curtail the calves from running around the pen.
Gentle pressure is used to hold the head of the calf in place while Dr. Kim tattoos, tags and checks over the animals.
Many farms use a squeeze chute to do this process. We are not a large enough enterprise to deem the amount of space and money needed to have an effective area for a squeeze chute. Although there is manhandling going on during our process, there are no injuries to the calves, Mike the pusher, or the vet during this examination.
Mike uses his hip to hold pressure on heifer to keep her from moving.
Veterinarian uses stethoscope to listen to breath sounds.
We had not noticed it right away, but the main herd split into two groups during the night. Some of the more adventuresome critters made their way across the Nehalem that was running high from the week of rain we had just gone through. Luckily, none of the younger animals tried to cross and stayed safely on the far side.
At this crossing where the river bends, the cows seem to have little to no problem crossing from the far side to the road side of the river. Going back across the swift water seems to be tougher for them and they are more hesitant. They find it harder to gain purchase on the slick rocky bottom as their backsides get pushed downstream as they cross. Cows can swim, but rushing water can carry them away if they miss-step and lose contact with the river rock. One cow did drift downstream a ways before getting her footing back.
With the thought of breakfast on their minds, the wayward cattle began to advance through the quick water. The herd sire, Renaissance, was holding back at the edge of the river. Predominately the last one to join the herd, he makes sure there are no missing stragglers from the group before catching up to the rest of the herd.
Most of the cows had made it across before the herd sire got into the water. With Renaissance weighing in at about 2400 lbs the river doesn’t push him around quite as much as the cows that weigh a ton or less.
This little adventure did not bother the half herd, and they were able to join with the others quickly for hay that had been put into the round feeders on the correct side of the river.
Six more calves have gone through the green clip weaner process while in the pasture with their mothers. This group contains the celebrity twins Front and Back, along with two heifers #2 and #5, and two bulls #19 and #21.
We have already removed the clips and transported the group of six from the far side of the river to the their own pen in the show barn.
By having this group sequestered in the show barn, it gives me the opportunity to pamper them. They have all the sweet grass hay they can eat and the pelleted grass seed with molasses grain twice a day.
I have also been chopping apples for them to snack on between feedings.
It will not take very many days for the animals to graduate from this pen. The bulls and steers will be moved into the bull pen and the heifers will be shuffled in with the other three weaned heifers in their own pen.
In a couple weeks, the last group of calves will get the green nose clips inserted and the process begins again.
The five yearlings that had the green weaning clips put in their noses have been separated from their mothers and are learning how to eat hay out of the manger.
Full bales are placed along the manger with fluffed up bales on top. The yearlings learn to lift their heads up to slip into the stanchion to get to the food. Once they put their heads down, the stanchion slides to the closed position and locks their head in. By lifting the hay up for them the first day, they start to get the idea that the sounds and feel of the metal on their neck is not harmful. The one on the left has already figured that out and is not surprised or hesitant about letting the head gate close while he lowers his head to eat.
The five still have the green clips in their noses. As soon as they are comfortable with the stanchions, I will lock their heads in and slip the clip out of their nostrils.
This group is completely weaned from their mothers. There is no bellering or crying, no pacing of fences and no trauma. They are enjoying the chance to eat all the hay they want without adults bunting them away. They are also getting pelleted grass seed screenings and chopped up apples in their diet. The kittens playing in the barn spooked them on the first day but they are getting used to watching the antics.
The first 5 calves have gotten their new jewelry in the form of a green plastic clip that snaps into their nose.
This little clip lets the calves wean themselves while they hang out in the same pasture with their mothers who are able to comfort their babies while their milk dries up.
This handy-dandy tool completely alleviates the pacing of fence lines, the bawling babies, and the mothers who get worked up and try to jump across all lines to get to their calves. The calves are able to eat normally just not nurse.
After a few days the calves can be moved away from their mothers and have the clips removed. At that time, they will be moved into the show barn where I get to spoil them by feeding all the hay they can eat along with a mixture of grass seed screenings made into pellets with molasses and sliced apples.
The babies soon learn that I will take good care of them through the rest of the weaning process.
We have been watching #64, SAF Gauge for a month. She was showing all the signs of impending birth, but she was not ready.
Each day we would check her and each day would have the same conclusion of ‘any time now’.
Finally 4/19/17 SAF Dial was born, the heifer weighed in at 61 lbs. This baby was definitely not overdue, or she would have weighed 80 lbs. Gauge had fooled us the whole time.
Dial was born in the middle of the main herd. I was halfway across the field when I heard Gauge let out one loud bellow, the calf was expelled and plopped into the pasture grass. The rest of the herd danced around with snorting and bellowing of their own. Some of the other calves were running circles around the herd. Everyone was very excited.
Dial was standing up and eating within 15 minutes of birth. The excitement around her her had quieted down as I coaxed the rest of the herd to eat their hay on the other side of the river.
Peach, who was born on January 3 and Respect, who was born on March 25 are getting along wonderfully well. Peach has been showing Respect how to sleep outside in the pasture, chase birds and as shown in this picture, eat hay from the manger.
Peach grabs large clumps of hay while Respect is still nibbling on stem at a time, but soon both will come into the barn at feeding time as quickly as their mothers do.
Respect tries to show his dominance as a bull when around Peach. He will scuffle and bump heads. Peach takes it good-naturedly and just pushes him aside when she tires of his game.