Hello everyone! Today we worked our Black Angus cows. What does that mean? Welllll let me show/tell you! :)
First, we have to move the herd from their grazing pasture into the pens located by our house. That can either be an easy process, or a 'make you lose your mind and want to pull out your hair' process. It just depends on how the cows are feeling that particular day. We never know, so it's always a 'fun' surprise. Today they did really well so yay! Cows are super (SUPER) food motivated and LOVE protein cubes. You can 'train' cows to follow a food truck that dumps out those cubes, or you can train them to come to you by shaking a bag of those cubes. What usually happens is my father in law either drives his truck that has the cuber attached, and calls the cows over. They usually see the truck ahead of time, so they are usually SPRINTING across the pasture to get to the food. Cows sprinting is one of my favorite things ever, seriously. Their ears are so cute, and I just love seeing them so happy! If I can ever figure out how to upload a video on here I will show you! After the cows have started moving towards the truck, my husband and I get on our four wheelers and get behind the herd to keep them moving, and to keep them from running away. Again, sometimes it's super easy and the cows cooperate, but sometimes we encounter 'rogue' cows that just decide to do whatever they want no matter what. I have had cows run me down on my four wheeler and ram it because they don't want to go to the pens. Some. Cows. Are. CRAZY. (More on different cow personalities later, it's the best haha) With those cows, we have to do everything we know possible to get them to come. Last year, we had three cows decide to run in every different direction and break through every fence in their way. We had to call in two men on horses to rope the cows and bring them to the pens. Those cows were CRAZY and were mean as can be.
Once all of the cows are up in the pens, we need to start separating them into different sections. One section is all of the mommas, the other is untagged calves, and the last has calves that are older and already tagged from the previous day of working. We usually start by working the momma cows by bringing a small group (maybe 5) at a time to spray with a de-wormer and mark down their numbers. Once they have been accounted for and sprayed, we let them back out into the pasture so we can work the calves. This time is no exception for the mommas to lose their cool. Just last week we had one cow freak out and jump OVER the 5 foot fence. I have never seen a cow get that much air, but this momma was determined. She was a crazy angry cow. Just like any other momma, these mommas are verrrrrrrrrrrry protective of their babies, and don't like being away from them. So, most of the time we have to deal with angry momma cows making noise all around the fence. The calves that already have tags are usually the calves that we gather and take to the sale barn to be sold. They are usually 7-10 months old by then and even though they still drink milk from their mommas (adult cows would still drink milk if they could, they LOVE it!) they are old enough to eat grass and protein feed, so it is safe and healthy to wean them.
The calves that are untagged require the most work. (yay) They need to be tagged, given shots, & sometimes castrated. We load a group of them into a small section of pens to make it 'easier' to work with them. (see picture below) My husband has had a couple of his toes broken and many bruises from this process so it is still dangerous. While there I get all of the syringes ready with the vaccines, and the number tags are all laid out and ready for me to hand to my husband. Who likes shots? No one. Calves are no different haha Some calves are not super bothered by the shots, but others FREAK OUT! Thats when toes are broken and bruises are formed. Then come the tags. Who has had their ears pierced? Me! It hurts. Same process, some calves aren't super bother by being tagged, but others lose their minds and start going crazy. Once the calves are ready to go, we let them back out with their anxious mommas and take note of which calf # goes to which momma.
The calves that we are selling will spend the night in the pens, and be fed a lot of food before sending them to the sale barn. Early in the morning we pack them into a trailer and haul them off. I hate separating mommas from their babies, thats one of my least favorite parts of this business, but it's actually very healthy for the momma and the baby after a certain point. When the calf has reached a certain size, they are drinking so much milk that it is hard for the momma to eat enough food to take care of herself & her big baby. The mommas begin to get very skinny, and need to not have a calf so they can start gaining some weight back. We have had some seriously skinny mommas. It breaks my heart to see them like that, but as soon as we wean their calf from them, it is amazing how fast they bounce back!
I super condensed this process in this post. Us working cows can take anywhere from 3-4 hours depending on the cows cooperation, and the weather conditions. Today it was in the low 50's so working them was no problem. HOWEVER, when it is over 100 degrees in the summer. It's literally the. worst. thing. everrrrr. and it feels like it takes a week to get them finished. I am thankful for the cooler months in Texas, as we can get much more accomplished outside and with the cows without feeling like we are going to pass out after 1 minute outside! I am not a native Texan, so the heat still kills me. However, my native Texan friends that I have met just LOVE the heat so it doesn't really bother them. I am trying to get used to the heat, but miss the cold! That's a whole other post so I will just stop there!
Thank you for reading! Please let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer! :)
Have a blessed weekend!