Last week we were blessed to have some visitors come to the farm! They couldn’t have come at a more perfect time because it was “birth” day for Charlotte’s fourth litter!
My friend, Lisa, works at NIVC Services, Inc. and had contacted me a few weeks ago to see if she could bring some clients for a tour! Lisa has the fabulous job of getting to do all sorts of fantastic activities with clients and is a top-notch chicken wrangler! NIVC Services, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization providing employment training and support to people with disabilities.
From the NIVC Services website “Activities Group, our clients have opportunities to have rich experiences and active lives by meeting friends, building relationships, and participating in their communities. Rather than staying home watching TV on their days off work, Joblink Activities clients can choose opportunities to go out with a group of friends for a couple of hours or a full day. With plenty of suggestions from clients, each month is packed with fun and interesting things to do.”
Our guests from NIVC Services, Inc. had chosen one of their activities to be touring a farm so you can imagine my response when Lisa asked, I couldn’t have been more excited and knew just the week they needed to come based on when I knew we should be having baby pigs!
Although Charlotte didn’t actually deliver a piglet while we were impatiently waiting she delivered one while we were out of the barn looking at the calves so our guests did get to see a brand new piglet.
We wandered around the farm, talked about what pigs and cattle eat, looked at tractors, gave a few pats to Mouse the calf, looked at field corn and most got to pet Moose the chicken. We looked at straw and hay and discussed how straw and corn stalks become like a big bed for the animals. It was a blast!
It absolutely made my morning to share what I love with this group that are all doinggreat things! I just know it based on their smiles and their fabulous questions. I can’t wait until Lisa calls for another visit!
Have you been on a farm tour or given a farm tour?
You are doing what to me today? I feel like that is the look this cow was giving me today. I feel ya, girl, most women don’t love that yearly exam. Fall cattle work is much like that yearly check-up that we all need to prevent health problems and catch them early if we can to prevent bigger problems.
Each fall we gather all of the cattle to give them the once over that is very similar to a yearly checkup. Females will get “preg checked” this means that the veterinarian will palpate the cow or heifer to check to see if she is pregnant. In some cases, the vet will use an ultrasound machine to identify the gender and to get a better guess of when the calf will be due. We know when most of the cattle are due based on artificial insemination dates and when cows were in heat if they were bull bred.
Knowing the gender of the calf when a heifer is bred helps the producer to know which heifer they might want to pay closer attention to as they get closer to their due date. For example, a heifer that is pregnant with a bull calf or twins will need a little closer watch as her due date approach versus a cow that has had five calves with ease.
All of the calves and cattle will get vaccinated. We give a 4-way injection to prevent disease. This will prevent our cattle from getting respiratory diseases that could kill them or cause them to become very ill and go “off of feed” which means they will stop eating which will impact their rate of gain.
All cattle will get “poured”. This means we will spray a liquid on their backs. This liquid will prevent parasites and other bugs like lice. We want to prevent parasites from living on our animals because parasites can create havoc with their digestion, impact how they absorb nutrients and can impact their immune system making them more susceptible to disease.
Bull calves will get cut or banded during this process. We chose to band all of our bull calves this year, which means that a thick rubber band was placed around the top of the testicle sack. In about 3 weeks the sack will fall off and dry up and the bull calf is then considered a steer. We have done it both ways but felt that banding would be the easiest route to go this time. If you decide to "cut" the bull calves then you can enjoy rocky mountain oysters!
That's a wrap
When cattle work is all finished then there are some times some tough decisions to make. Animals that aren't bred and aren't going to produce calf in the next year probably need to be culled from the herd, as they will end up costing the producer quite a bit of money in feed and vet work. They could be kept until the next breeding season and that is a decision that the producer has to make based on their balance sheet.
Are there other things you do when working cattle on your farm or ranch? Any fun traditions that your family has during cattle work? Have you ever tried rocky mountain oysters?