Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Weaning Calves

So I was suppose to have this post done a long time ago and I'm sorry that it hasn't happened. Like I've said before that blogger and I have been having some issue and it probably doesn't help that I have tons of pictures on my computer that are slowing me down.

Weaning calves is something we do around our farm twice a year and it's something I don't have that many pictures of because I am very actively involved with it and it is hard to get many pictures.

The process involves catching all the cattle in a pen and sorting off all the calves from the cows. We then will proceed to "work" all the calves. This involves vaccinating...just like Moms around the country do with their kids everyday.

We do it to the cattle for the very same reason...

to prevent the calves from getting sick.

We will also treat any sickness that we might come across while running the calves through the chute, as well as giving each calf a ear tag. We use these to be able to tell the calves from each other. I give a few of them names, but there are far too many of them to name and a lot of them are just plain black so you can't really tell them apart. So ear tags the get.

Does all this hurt them...

Well you have had shots really just for a bit. As for the ear tags if you've ever gotten your ears pierced then you know the feeling...

me I have 8 holes in my ears so I know all very well the felling and it's not that bad.  

Just like children at the doctors office some cry and scream before they even go into the doctors office and others don't make a sound.

The other thing we do at this time is we will castrate all the male calves.  I'm sure Caleb and every other man out there would say that it's just plain mean, but it is a must so suck it up boys.

After the calves are worked the little ones are sent back out to be with momma and the larger calves are loaded in a trailer and taken to a tightly secured pen...

I say tightly because we had a few issues with that this year, but more on that in a bit...

So a couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of Caleb sortin' some calves into the alley way and my dear friend "The Wife" made a comment about how easily our cattle worked well if only that were true!

First of all the calves in that photo were technically Caleb's grandpa's but it really makes no difference cause his can cause as many problems as ours do.

While getting all the cattle in it never fails that we have to have the 4-wheelers to do some of the chasing. One of the groups ran all over 320 acres being led by one crazy cow...

Like I said before I am actively involved with working the cattle so getting pictures of these events  doesn't get to happen much cause if I'm not on a 4-wheeler or in the truck chaisin' the cattle then I am on foot and the last thing I want to have with me while chasin' cattle is my camera.

So this group was just one problem...

but it lead to others, because of having to chase those cattle all over kingdom come gates got left open and the cow were out not once but twice...

but they are back in and things are better.

so previously I said something about have a tightly secured pen to place the calves in...

Why is this important you may be asking...

Well newly weaned calves will wander all around their new lot. They do a lot of hollering for their mommas...

 and look for any opportunity to escape and try and find her.

For this reason it is a good idea to have the tightly secured.

Well this year we didn't do that all too well. With our first group of weaning calves we placed them in a pen that we had never used since I have been around.

I don't remember the reason but Caleb decided this was the place to put them.

Well the gate for this pen wasn't the best gate in the world and it was only held shut by a small chain that was hooked to some tin on the neighboring shed. 

Well we drop the calves off there and shut ans chain the gate and go home cause these calves came from the group of cattle I talked about earlier that had gone all over the place....

soo needless to say we were tired!!

Well early the next morning we get a call from Caleb's grandpa letting us know that every single calf was out and gone.

It's never a good day when you get a call like this in the morning.

Well we throw on some clothes real quick and head up there.... this time the calves have broke down a gate and gone through two fences and are about a 1/2 a mile away in a harvested bean field. Well after a little persuasion we get all the calves we see into one of the connecting pastures.

The worst part about this pasture is that there is also some first calf heifers in this pasture as well and they are full of spunk and energy that day.

I head up and get all the gates opened and while the guys try to wrangle them with the 4-wheelers. after about 30 min to and hour they finally get the calves plus half the group of heifers.

Well once they are back in a lot we sort off all the heifers and do a head count which comes up one calf short. 

Well that's no good!!!

So we put all the calves back into the pen they had escaped from earlier and this time we chain it with that tiny little crappy chain but we also put this glorified twig in front of it to help keep it closed.

this stick probably weighed 10 pounds at most and it's suppose to stop 20+ 600 pound calves from stampeding it....

humm....I had my doubts, but I'm still new to this joint and well I guess I will have to trust them.

Well we head back out to look for this last calf but really didn't have much luck, so while guys are still out there I head back to start filling some sacks with feed so we can go catch another group of cattle to wean and work the calves in their group.

The time frame from when we left to look for the last calf to when I got back was probably 10-15 minutes.

So guess what I find when I get back?!?!

You bet it...all those calves we had just gotten in have stampeded the gate and trampled the twig and were out again.


are you kidding me?!?!

So I give Caleb a holler and give him the good news.

By this time they have already gotten back in with the crazy heifers, but one good thing did happen from them getting out a second time...

Because they were once again roaming around bawling the lost calf came back to find them and we were able to get him in too.

Since we had already ran the group all over they cooperated a lot better this time and we got them in and sorted rather quickly, but this time we put them in a different holding pen, that was much more secure!

You might think that was all of the story, but it's not...

About a month later we were finally able to get the rest of our calves worked and weaned, but because of some water issues we were going to have put our calves in the that same pen again, but this time we did some improvements....

First we got a brand new chain that is now wrapped around a big ol' post inside of the building as well as....

Placing a huge tractor tire on the gate to replace the before mentioned twig. Now that's a road block.

Alright, after writing and reliving all of this I am tired and I think I'm gonna call it good for now.

Stay tuned from something exciting tomorrow!




  1. I'm sure you have, but have you tried shrinking down the photos so they aren't as big. I take mine down to double digits or low triple digits and they upload fairly quickly... just a thought.

  2. I'm glad my chickens are in a house, no chasing required! At least until they need catching, then the chicken catchers come and I don't have to be involved, thank goodness!

  3. Oh boy did this post bring back memories!! Lots of cussing and chasing. lol Thanks for sharing.

  4. I love working calves! We always help a friend of ours, and his Mama's were so old they knew the ropes. Only the unruly newer mama's threw a kink in things, so it would actually go pretty smoothly. Now...when we had cattle, and no system to round them up, we chased many a calf down in the thickets, lol!

  5. Calves sure do holler a lot! My Superman grew up on cattle farm, and whenever there's a new shipment of calves to the feed lots, it tends to signal the beginning of a very noisy couple of weeks!