Sunday, February 22, 2009

Processing calves


We take in calves for another cattleman to feed for the winter. They go to our cousin for summer grass in May. As the order buyer gets the steers bought they're shipped to our house. We process (brand, vaccinate and pour) them as they come in. Usually 50 - 100+ at a time. We work around the boys' school work so that the four of us can take care of it without any extra help. We introduce the dogs to the calves as we're moving them in the corral and up into the tub and alley. We don't use the dogs once they're in the alley as it's solid. We've been doing this long enough now that my family runs calves through pretty quickly. I do think there's some sort of murphy's law that says when we get the bigger loads in it has to be cold, snowy or windy. Sometimes all of the above!
(Jag watching a bunch that's been worked already.)

Anyway, the dogs will bring a bunch of about 14-15 up the return alley and into the tub. We are there to open and close gates for them. I like to spread the work out between all of my dogs from time to time but I do have a few favorites when it comes to this work. Jag and Zac know the job so well that it would be easy to just take them all the time but Zac is retired and I don't want to shorten Jag's career by over using him. Dustin takes Kat and she really excels at this work. Well, as long as Dustin is there. It doesn't even do me any good to take Kat out if he's not there as she wants nothing to do with working for me anymore.

(Kat bringing another bunch to the tub.)

Cash has just started helping with it this year. He turned 2 in January. He can be a bit gung ho at times and wants to go after every steer that comes of of the chute but he's taking less reminders to lay still until needed now. He's also dealing with working with several different dogs at the same time and getting better about only taking his commands. He's proving to be a very useful dog. He's also figured out that he likes be next to the chute just in case one of the calves hasn't been castrated yet!

(Cash working with Jag as backup)

It can take several hours to get it all done and move the calves to pasture but we all really enjoy the time spent together. Even the boys really seem to enjoy it. They both would like to brand every calf but we make them trade off between that and bringing calves up the alleyway. When it's cold the fight is ON because both of them would like to be close to the branding stove! :-)

(Jag turning one back)

We need to get our own fall calves run through tomorrow. We'll have to gather and move them to the corrals first. Should be enough work to spread it out to a few dogs anyway. Nell and Jag will probably do the pasture work and we'll let Kat and Cash work the pens. It's supposed to be nice tomorrow. Not sure if we'll really know how to handle that.

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