Our main herd of cows across the river have been giving us clues that it is time to move them to new grazing areas. Some of the more mature, senior cows stand at the fence line longingly looking toward greener pastures. But before we moved the herd there was a little housekeeping in the veterinary sense that needed to be taken care of. The older calves have ear tags already and now there are five more that are old enough to get their own number. Continue reading
We moved the cow/calf pairs into the barn and picked out the four oldest calves of the season to attach eartags. At this age, the calves are fairly easy to wrangle so we did not have to worry that it would turn into a rodeo, it was a quick catch, clip and release. We did not put tags in all the calves because the weight of the tags is enough to permanently droop tender ears.
The yellow tags are numbered and we will be on the lookout to see which baby nurses from which mother so we can document the number to verify lineage. This is important both for our registration records and because we already have a cow/calf pair that is sold and will be picked up next week to go to a farm by Hood River.
One moment they are all poised for a picture and the next a rogue feline will scurry and dart, up and down, through and around, upsetting the tiered balance.
The air pockets between bales make good hidey-holes for sneak attacks. The frantic chase game has been known to startle the two calves, HeartThrob and Cloud who then run willy-nilly out of the barn and into the open pasture away from the cat skirmishes.
The three calves are growing like crazy and look forward to eating hay when we feed. They are learning to be more independent from their mothers and like to hang out together.
The mothers are still very cautious and there is always one not too far away in case one of the calves gets into mischief, meanders too far from the group, or if the coyotes begin to hang around. The mothers take turns with babysitting duties between feedings.
Christmas Carol is still smaller than the two bulls but she is eating well and putting on weight. All three are now running and have learned to kick up their heels without falling over. The bulls, Bluff and Blaze are prone to stick their nose in the hay before eating in an attempt to fight with the pile by pushing it around.
The three new calves are having a wonderful time getting to know their world and bonding with their mothers in the hay field turned nursery field.
The babies are beginning to display personality traits. Christmas Carol (the smallest and oldest) loves to lag behind so she can run full tilt to catch up and run circles around the other babies and all the mothers. She has learned to twitch her tail and kick up her heels while getting warmed up for a run. (In this picture she is on the far right). Continue reading
These calves have had minimal human contact even though they had been fed twice a day. But it’s different when their mothers are not nearby and when the hay is not laying rows spread out across the field.
Here inside the barn, the calves learn to lift their head up in order to slip their ears through the V of the stanchions, then not flinch when the cold metal hits their necks or when the metal clanks. We do not lock them into the head gates at this stage, they have free access to hay and grain 24 hours a day while they learn the advantages to not being bossed around by the bigger animals. They are really happy with the sliced apples we have been tossing in with their grain and wait along the stanchions for their share at each meal.
In a couple of days the bulls will be separated from the heifers. The bulls will be moved out with the other weaned boys living in the bullpen and the heifers will have this side of the barn and out into the barnyard that wraps around the left side of the barn.
These are the two heifers and one bull from the show barn and they have now been outfitted with their own weaner clips.
These youngsters have been used to putting their head in the stanchions since they were born so the process for them is very smooth. All the hay, chopped apples and grain they want keeps them happy while the mothers are fed in a separate area.
In about 4-5 days these three will be moved away from their mothers completely and the weaner clips will be removed.