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?
How long does it take you to drive 26 miles in Iowa? Not very long compared to driving 26 miles in a big city, right? Have you ever paid attention to what was in that 26-mile drive? My job in education takes me on the roads quite often and one of the schools I frequent is a 26-mile drive from dropping the girls off with Grandma to the door of the school. It was on one of those drives late last summer that I started to really contemplate my why, why I share my stories, why I post and share on social media, and why I write in general. My why? There are stories to be told and I want to make sure they are told with facts once they appear in the social media feeds or inboxes of people all across this country. I give you 26 miles of agriculture.
I know people reading this may not live somewhere where this is their typical 26-mile drive. That is okay, you are the reason I compiled this piece. You see, where I live, you cannot drive 26 miles without seeing, breathing, hearing, and smelling agriculture. It surrounds us. The men and women working to feed America surround us. You may not see it in your everyday world, but I do. As you take a look through these photographs please know that behind each photograph are men and women that work in the business employed that supports agriculture in some way.
Part of the reason that I want to help others tell their stories if they don’t have a platform to do so is that I don’t want those stories to perish with them when they leave this earth and move on to greener pastures. We need them to stay here for the next generations to read, see, and understand just what went into the operations and businesses that feed our world and provide employment for so many.
To get my point across I decided I was going to share 26 photographs with all of you that were of the things I see on my 26-mile drive. There are way more than 26 photographs that I could have shared with you and that doesn't even count the countless number of semis and trucks I meet each daily that are absolutely related to agriculture. Some days were sunny on my way to work and some days they were rainy on my way home, but I think it just confirms the fact that that is what people working in agriculture deal with every day. I present you with 26 miles of Agriculture in 26 photographs.
Farm, Agriculture, Ranch Friday
While today’s version of Farm, Agriculture, and Ranch Friday wasn’t about a specific person it was about specific people. The 26 miles of people that do the work, day in and day out.
I look forward to sharing more stories with you on Friday's to come. Know someone that you feel should be interviewed for Farm, Ag, Ranch Friday? Fill out this form to make your recommendation.