Thursday, May 7, 2009

Processing Calves

Late spring is the time of year when our ranch processes calves. That basically means the calves get their shots, ear-marked, ear-tagged, castrated, and antibiotics, if needed.

A couple drums hold some of the needed equipment--vaccination guns and ear taggers.

The process is repeated over and over for each calf, and the team works smoothly. A calf is moved into the chute, which is tightened and laid on its side. Each calf receives several vaccinations and has its ears cut. This ear cutting is to show ownership of the calf. We don't brand calves, but use this method instead. 

When I told my husband that ear cutting didn't seem very nice, he reminded me that human circumcision is basically the same concept--removing part of the body that isn't critical for a function.

Calves are given an oral antibiotic, but since they aren't willing to just take a pill and swallowit  with a swig of water, there's a metal gadget (called a balling gun if you really wanted to know) that is put down their throat to make them take the pill.

They get a new ear tag that has an insecticide in it.

And if the calf is a male, it is castrated. But instead of whacking off those delicate parts, a rubber band is used to cut off circulation, and in a few days the reduced blood flow means that part of the body is no longer effective. The infection rate for this method is less than the Rocky Mountain oyster method.

For female calves, the process is done in less than a minute, and for male calves, just a bit longer. The chute is tipped up, and the calf jumps out.

Old Cowboy Lee came by with a sick calf he had found on the range. I love it when Lee comes by, he is just such a quintessential cowboy.

Desert Boy and I got a job while we were hanging around. We moved the newly processed calves out of the fenced area and into the bigger part of the corral where all the nervous moms were waiting.

Desert Boy enjoyed opening and closing the gate.

The moms and calves were a little confused and took some time to get sorted out. They were also very noisy, as you can hear in this video:

The calves eventually got sorted out. This calf found his mama and started doing his favorite activity--eating. Life is good again.


Anonymous said...

What do you think the cows are saying to each other?

The mooing kind of reminds me of family get-togethers. After dinner, we all sit around the table and moo with satisfaction. Somehow, I don't think the cows are mooing because they're feeling good.


Sliv said...

Lots of nostalgia for me with this series. We'd all have a job to do, as Desert Boy did. When not 'working' the kids would sit in the dirt, with pebbles and twigs, writing, making designs, counting and sorting sizes.

Then all night long, the mooing of mamas and calves. Just like you recorded. Lived in the house nearest the corrals. It was even worse in the fall after weaning: Several nights of mama's mooing, separated from their babies, who were mooing for their mama's. Lots of noise. Not much sleep.

Flinch Baxter said...

"When I told my husband that ear cutting didn't seem very nice, he reminded me that human circumcision is basically the same concept--removing part of the body that isn't critical for a function."

It's a good comparison because both are inhumane and both are nonconsensual body modifications.

Circumcision to a religious person is like farming to a meat eater; They're inhumane practices linked to belief structures that are built on lies.

Eating meat for a protein intake isn't nearly as efficient as nuts and legumes, and if you look close enough into the comparisons you'll find that the math doesn't lie. The food pyramid, however, is a huge lie. 6-8 servings of wheat daily?! What?! Dairy and meat products that we as frugivorous primates cannot fully digest?! Ridiculous!

As for that picture featuring the vaccination equipment sitting on those rusted buckets... sheesh. Okay just leave your syringes out there to collect dirt and then plunge it into someone. I used to be a health care provider and my superiors would have a fit if I pulled that off. Just saying.

And then there's the methane emissions from cattle farming, which doesn't do any good for our environment.

I know my comment came off as con-descending but I'm passionate about this stuff, and these pictures are legitimately sickening in my opinion.

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