Tag Archives: gross
WARNING! This might be considered by some to be gross, inappropriate, or tragic, but I think it is extremely important to share the how’s, what’s and why’s of our food. If you have any questions about anything you see please ask – I love to share about the ranch.
Every single cattle person I interact with loves their cattle. Our lives revolve around them and their needs. Their needs are met before our own. Their well-being is our first priority, always. When we have an animal in distress, we are in distress as well, and we do everything we possibly can to fix the situation.
I was reminded of this fact recently. It’s calving season in Northern California. Calving season is the best and worst time of our year. On one hand we are witnessing the birth of our future, new life and all the promise that brings. On the other hand, this is the time when things are most likely to go wrong.
Just like when humans give birth, it is an event. Bodies change, hormones rage and things can go wrong. 98 percent of the time everything is fine, everyone is healthy. But sometimes, we do have problems. Often heifers, whom are giving birth for the first time, will need some assistance. Sometimes a cow will have a set of twins or a calf will be born backwards. In this case, both happened. In this video you will see our neighbor and family friend “pulling” a backward, twin, calf.
Unfortunately the calf you saw being pulled was not alive at birth and could not be resuscitated. However, her twin was alive and well!
When calves are born and are not breathing, there are certain methods we will use to resuscitate them. I’ve seen my father perform mouth to mouth on calves before and they lived! My Mom jokes that she decided to marry my Dad after watching him save a newborn calf. You can see Brian feeling and rubbing the chest, to double check that she was gone. This calf was already gone, so she felt no pain.
However when we do have a calf that is born dead, and without a twin for the cow to raise, we have methods to lessen the grief of the cow. Again we want our cattle to be happy, to do their jobs, and earn us an income so we can continue to ranch.
Cattle people work very hard to prevent pulling calves. I mean, honestly, is reaching your arms into the reproductive organs of a cow, something that you would WANT to do? No. This is why we use technology to improve what we do and hopefully prevent this from happening as much as we can.
We use our knowledge of genetics and our understanding of EPDs (expected progeny differences) to manipulate our cattle herd. This means, calves are born with smaller birth weights (making birth easier on everyone, little babies are easier to push out!), but higher weaning weights. This makes us efficient. We are using technology to do more with less. I’ve been especially lucky in my lifetime to see these changes first hand. When I was a child, I remember watching my Dad pull way more calves than he does now. Our calves were also weaned at 500 pounds versus almost a 1000 now, all because we have access to better technology.
By adapting this technology into our herds we have improved the quality of our cattle’s lives, the quality of our lives and have become more efficient and sustainable. Yes, we still have death and loss, but, as I’ve just explained here, we constantly are seeking out ways to mitigate that.
Mama cow and her baby (from the above video) are currently grazing in a lush, green field in Northern California.
“I no longer want to eat that big ass steak I wanted seeing your pictures last week. I think it’s the poop and the blood and stuff together. I mean, I can blow someone’s head off in a video game and be fine, but this makes my stomach turn. Which means that you posting this is a good thing, because I feel like the reverse should be true”… – James Wall
I’m glad my friend James agrees with me. Again I think as a society we are removed from all things gross, unless it is in the movies, on TV or in a video game. Since we dealt with death last week, we deal with life this week, here is my Wordless Wednesday.
Again – if you have questions, please leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail. I will answer anything you want to know.
Cattle sometimes need help giving birth or “calving”. This happens for a variety of reasons – from using bulls whose EPD’s are too high, or simply a baby calf gets twisted around. Often time heifers or – cows that have never given birth – need the most help. Remember the blog post I did a while back about how we check if a cow is pregnant (https://megraeb.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/how-do-you-know-if-a-cow-is-pregnant/), this heifer is from that same herd.
This heifer needed some help giving birth because the calf was twisted all around. My Dad is a champion calf puller – he’s been doing it his whole life.
He reaches in and adjusts the calf. Then he affixes “calf pulling” chains to the calf’s front legs. If he didn’t use the chains both he and the calf risk more injury. When the cow has her next contraction and pushes, my Dad pulls and the baby is welcomed into the world.
We place the cow in the squeeze chute for two reasons. The first being it keeps the cow still so my Dad can help her, without getting killed. Second is the pressure from the chute calms the cow. The cattle are not being mistreated here. This is standard industry practice and if we didn’t intervene chances are very high both Mama and baby would die.
Concerned Mama waiting for her baby to come out of the chute.
My Dad picks the baby up and places her in the pen with her Mama so they can bond.
She loves her baby!
Right before my Dad starts dry heaving (one would think that after 50+ years he’d stop that).
The nursery field. Cows that have new babies are all put in a field with short grass (so we can see them), that is not being irrigated (so they don’t get sick) and they are all together so we can check them easily. It’s probably one of the cutest things ever – a whole pasture full of racing, Angus babies.
Photos from Sharon Brown