Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fall ranch work terminology

Some of you will know exactly what I'm talking about in my posts over the next few weeks. But, if you aren't familiar with ranch work I might use some terms that aren't exactly clear. So, in an effort to reduce confusion I thought I would lay out and define a few terms for you ahead of time.

Pair- A pair consists of one mother cow and her baby. They are collectively called a pair. If there are a lot of mothers and their babies in a pasture together they are known as pairs.

Sorting - This can mean a variety of things. We could be sorting pairs, which means we are matching each mother and baby together. We do this to make sure we don't leave any calves behind, and to see if any calves died over the summer.
Sorting can also refer to splitting the cows and calves apart in preparation for shipping (see below) We haul the cows in the same truck and cattle pot we hauled the sheep in recently. You don't want to haul cows and calves in the same compartment because the cows will accidentally squish their calves, and could kill them.

Shipping - This refers to hauling livestock from one location to the other. We move our livestock long distances to utilize leased grass during the summer months, then bring them home for the winter. It's like a postal service for cows.

So, if I say I'm shipping pairs, I am referring to hauling the cows and calves somewhere.


Pregging/preg checking - Checking cows to determine if they are pregnant. This is done on our operation every fall. If a cow isn't pregnant we sell her. This is because she is losing us money if she isn't raising a calf.

Culling - This is the term used to describe getting rid of the cows who aren't pregnant. They are called cull cows, because we are culling them out of our herd.

Weaning - I know this one is pretty basic, but every fall we wean the calves off their mothers, much like people do with puppies or kittens.

Pre-conditioning - this is a series of shots given to calves at weaning, much like kids are given shots at certain ages in school. It can also include getting calves started on a feeding program sometimes. We are not pre-conditioning for a number of reasons I will discuss later, but that is what the term means.

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