The last calves to be weaned are now comfortably residing in the show barn while they learn the basics of eating in a manger. It’s not as easy as one would think.
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.
I have been threatening for the last month to get rid of pesky #33 bull calf since his nightly (and now daily too) raids into the fenced off pasture by the barn. His time is now up.
The last of calf crop for this year has now had their green weaner clips installed and this included bull #33. The simple snap-on clip prevents the calves from nursing. This great invention keeps the herd calm while the calves are weaned right next to their mothers. The moms console the calves and the calves snuggle the moms, they just can’t get to the milk while the supply dries up.
In a few days, we will gather the seven calves with the weaner clips and bring them over to the show barn so they can learn to eat without their mothers nearby. I have the last of the apple crop waiting for them, an abundant supply of food will be available 24 hours a day with chopped apples, sweet hay and grain. The last batch we weaned never bellowed at all and really enjoyed the pampering. #33 will not miss his illicit pasture raids.
This last week we were able to nose clip and wean three more calves, this time two heifers and a bull.
After weaning alongside their mothers, we removed the calves from the herd and took out those green nose clips. The three pen mates are happily learning that fresh chopped apples along with grain and all the hay they want is readily available, and no big cows are pushing them from the goodies. There has been no discomfort and no bellowing from the cows or the calves (the mothers seem to be happy they are relieved from milking duties).
We needed to thin the herd before the bad weather hits when we can’t get the trailer in and out from across the river. These three along with a cow/calf pair (the calf being too young to wean) are headed to the auction.
This last hay season was very poor. The grass dried up in the heat and there was no vegetation growing back in the dry soil. We attempt to keep only the amount of cattle that we can support from our own hay, but we have already had to purchase several loads from a neighbor just to augment the amount we harvested. This trip to the auction will lessen the amount of hay that will need to be fed throughout the winter to keep the existing herd happy and healthy.
Just as the calves that had been loaned out to a neighbor farm for the summer had completed the weaning process, we started the next batch of three with their own clips.
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.
The final eight calves for our 2017 calf crop have had their green weaning clips installed and are well on their way through the process.
Soon the eight will be moved to the show barn away from their mothers and the clips will be removed. While in the show barn they will be pampered with as much grain and hay that they want. The veterinarian will be by in the next week to give an official vet check to all the critters we have weaned throughout the fall and to give the required BANGS ( Brucellosis) shot for each of the heifers.
Vaccination requirements. Brucellosis vaccination is required for all sexually intact female cattle 4 months of age and over. Calfhood vaccinations must occur between 4-12 months of age. Oregon does accept mature vaccinated cattle. A legible vaccination tattoo is required.
Brucellosis in a herd could render females to abort their calves instead of being able to deliver at full term. If we were to fore go the requirement, we would not be able to sell the animals as breeding stock and they would be slaughter only, hence the reason for getting the animals vaccinated before 12 months of age when they could start to reproduce.
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.
It was a big day for movement. First up, the two calves with the green weaning clips, #1 (Peach) and #18 (Respect) needed to have the clips removed before being moved away from their mother’s Sitka and Quiet.
While everyone was locked into the stanchions (headgates) and were contentedly munching on chopped apples and sweet hay, I removed the green clips from the calves and changed the gates in the barn to allow for Peach to travel from the cow/ calf side of the barn to the other side that has the two older heifers that were weaned last month. Peach wasn’t wild about being moved away from her dinner, but as soon as she was safely on the other side got a new portion and went right back to eating. I closed the gates behind her and she was securely in with her two roomies. This pen is smaller than the wide open pasture down into the woods where she had been with the mom’s, but opens up to a private barnyard between the barn and the shop with plenty of room for the three heifers. Continue reading