Monday, June 27, 2011

Cattle pictures

Here are some cattle photos from the last several weeks for you to start you week with. Happy Monday everyone : )
I am also linking this post up with Deborah Jean's Dandelion House Farmgirl Friday blog hop this week

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How Pretty

I don't usually post pictures outside of those I've taken, but this one jumped out at me as I purused through blog land this afternoon. How cute is that old truck with all the teal pillows and picnic basket?! It just makes me want to go on a picnic date : )

Photo from here

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wyoming Jr. Hereford Field Day

I was asked to assist a photographer friend of mine at this year's Wyoming Jr. Hereford Field Day, held yesterday in Torrington, WY.
It was a lot of fun. I am a past competitor at this show, and showed Herefords throughout my 4-H career, and I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for Hereford cattle. Seeing all the young people and their red and white cattle was great! I also learned a lot from my friend and ran into some people I've known for years.
Here are a few photos from the day, which was kind enough to hold off the nasty thunderstorms until the show was over.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pouring Steers

A few weeks ago we poured our steers and shipped them to summer pasture. I took pictures of the entire process for you, so we're going with the, "better late than never" mentality with this post.
We pour our cattle in the spring with a parasiticide that will kill roundworms, lungworms, grubs, sucking lice, biting lice, mange mites and horn flies. While not every one of these parasites are commonly found each year, the idea is to treat any that are present on a given year, and to be more preventative in the treatment method than reactive.
This is done at certain times of the year, based on parasitic life cycles. Spring is a key time as the frost goes out of the ground, and number of parasite's life cycles kick into high gear.
Here is a picture of a parasite's life cycle, using a sheep instead of a cow. The concept is the same as far as life cycles go.

First we gathered the steers, and Kyle took a few minutes to scratch his favorite. This steer will let Kyle scratch him all over - it may be hard to tell in the photo, but Kyle is scratching his tail, and the steer is sticking it straight out for him, and licking at it, much like some dogs do when you give them a good scratching.

We got the pour-on ready to go. See that hose he's holding? It attached the bottle of pour-on to the applicator gun, which automatically refills via the hose after each animal.

Here's the gun, which is adjusted based on weight. Pour-on and medicine dosages in cattle are almost always based on weight.

We used our same corrals, and my dad brought the steers, a few at a time, down the alley and into the tub.

Kyle often ducked down so the steers couldn't see him, and would load into the single-file alley.

When the steers started up the alley, Kyle moved into position.

Most of the steers walked or jogged up the alley, and I ran a gate to slow them up, ensuring Kyle had time for his gun to reload after each steer, ensuring every animal got the proper dosage of parasiticide.

As the steer walks by, Kyle squirts the pour-on down his back. The back is the most ideal place to apply the pour-on, because then it can soak through the skin and into the animal's blood system, offering long-term relief from the parasites listed at the beginning.

If it doesn't soak in, it doesn't do any good.

Then the steers walked out the gate just behind the chute, and joined their compadres.

After all the steers were poured, we counted them to make sure they were all present for the trip to summer pasture.

Then we put them back in the big alleyway, and sorted out specific numbers to load on the cattle pot. The gate Kyle is opening leads to the loading alley, and cattle pot.

Kyle brought a bunch for one compartment of the cattle pot. We jog our cattle up to the truck because it's uphill, and the momentum of jogging keeps them moving forward and onto the cattle pot.

There they go up the loading alley and onto the truck.

And into their specific compartment on the cattle pot. As I've mentioned before, the cattle pot (big, multiple level trailer used to haul cattle and pulled by a semi) is divided into different pens to keep weight distributed properly, and to keep the cattle safe. If you just fill the trailer full, and didn't have cattle separated into pens, the cattle would be more likely to squish and hurt each other during turns and changes in speed. With these separate pens, only a few cattle are in each area, and they are far less likely to be injured. This is especially critical when hauling cows and their baby calves. You always separate these when hauling so the cows don't accidentally step on, squish, or smother their babies.

There is the last bunch, which were put in the very back pen. When they're all on, the trucker (my dad in this case) closes the trailer door. Then the steers were hauled about an hour from our house, and turned out on their summer pasture.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Misc. Photos

If you come here for the photos, I apologize for the lack of them in recent weeks. Hopefully my Internet issues are permanently fixed. Here are a few random shots I've taken in the last few weeks for you to enjoy!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Political Issues - GIPSA Rule

As I've already mentioned we covered a number of topics while in Washington D.C. My plan is to present a number of those issues to you while they're still fresh in my mind.
Up first is the proposed GIPSA (Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) Rule, which USDA is currently working on.
The 2008 Farm Bill required re-writing and clarification of certain aspects of the GIPSA Rule, and the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) was the entity in charge of this rule, so they got the task of re-writing it. The GIPSA website states the goal of the regulation is to level the playing field between packers, live poultry dealers, and swine contractors, and the nation's poultry growers and livestock producers.
The result of the USDA's first draft was varied and outspoken. During the public comment period, 60,000 comments were submitted, voicing everything from strong support to rigorous opposition of the rule. I attended one of a series of USDA/DOJ public workshops on the topic, where a number of panels comprised of members of the livestock industry spoke on the issue, and where producers from across the country spoke passionately for and against it based on the impact it would have on their operation and their neighbor's operations.
Right now everyone is waiting for the USDA to release the final rule after making changes based on the 60,000 public comments. The USDA has three choices of how they can proceed upon completing the writing phase. First, they can release a final rule, period, the end. Second, they can present a proposed final rule with an additional public comment period. Third they can submit a reproposal of the entire rule. They also have the option of doing a combination of the three. For example, they can choose specific parts to be released as final, and make others open for another public comment period.
Many of the congressional delegation are in opposition of continued funding of the rule, because they don't like the idea of the USDA being able to come out with a final rule without anyone getting any additional say in the matter, especially with this being such a sensitive issue. Without funding the rule would die where it is now until the next budgeting session (I think, until sometime in the next session).
Others are in support of keeping the bill fully funded until we see what the final rule, or proposed rule is, then taking action if there is anything they're in opposition of.
The argument with that is if the rule is passed without additional comment, the only way to make changes is through a challenge or new legislation (and perhaps others), all of which can take several years. During that entire time the rule would stand as released.
You can read an outline of the original proposed rule here.
This is an important issue to all members of the livestock industry because it is a rule designed to level the marketing playing, and will have impacts (both good and bad) on all sectors . I encourage you to read up on it, and stay updated on it.
We were able to speak with USDA GIPSA Administrator Dudley Butler on the issue while in D.C., and he said, "If both sides come out a little mad and a little happy, I think will have done a good job."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I thought I'd never see this

Below is something I didn't think I would ever witness in my lifetime.

Be forewarned that it was quite shocking to see for the first time...

My father and uncle using their cell phones while riding.

Sorry if you were expecting something else.

I was caught very off guard when my uncle asked if I had my cell phone on me a couple weeks ago when we were gathering and trailing cows. I did that particular day, but it was turned off and in the bottom of my camera bag. I asked why, and he replied that he would just call me when he wanted me to open a particular gate we were trailing some cows through. I was on a 4-wheeler due to my horse being injured, and thus assigned such jobs and zooming out in front of the bunch to open a gate or turn them.

He ended up having left his phone in the pickup, so my dad showed him how to use his, and I snapped the above photo during the lesson.

It worked well, and is a great example of how technology can be used to increase efficiency on a ranching operation. I know lots of people who have cell service, and use cell phones, on their operations, but this is the first location we've run cattle on that boasted cell service of any kind. While I doubt we will ever be the type of people who are on our phones all day while doing ranch work, it is a very handy service to have in certain situations.

However, I am still surprised any time I see these two men trailing cows and making phone calls, all at once.

Home Sweet Home

I am back in Wyoming, and loving it, after spending a few days in Washington D.C., lobbying and discussing issues as a representative of the U.S. Cattlemen's Association (USCA). My boyfriend and I were fortunate enough to represent our great state at the fly-in, and it was a fun, intense experience. Hopefully I will have a few minutes to sit down and share several of the issues we covered, as they are all very important to everyone from producers to consumers.

We were also able to spend a day seeing the sites in D.C., met some great people from across the country that were also representing the USCA, walked many many miles, drank lots of coffee, went through a lot of security, and started our trip home at 2:30 a.m., MST yesterday.

I feel like a zombie as a result.

Today I am headed out to check on our yearlings, tomorrow we are turning out the last of our bulls with the cows and beyond that I do not know at this point...

These pictures are from my mother's Columbine flowers, and were taken right before we headed to the nation's capital, and were waiting when we returned.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Treating Scours

Scours are diarrhea in calves, and can be caused by grass, too much milk, or more serious bacterial or viral issues, and are one of the leading health issues in baby calves were my uncle lives. If the bacterial or viral versions are left untreated in young calves, scours can lead to death. We treated several of his calves for scours while branding. Ranchers are always taking advantage of the opportunity to improve the health of their livestock, even if it isn't the primary job of the day.
We give calves a low-grade antibiotic and sulfur pill - think an Imodium AD pill for cattle, to treat this issue.

The process goes like this:

You pull back the cylinder of the pill gun, and put a pill in the end. It kind of sticks in there a little bit - you can just see the end of the pill in the above photo, and that the circle at the end is pulled out.

You want to give the calf the pill when his head is up, so we tip our chute back down after we're done branding the calf. This method works really well for us.

Kyle is our best pill-giver. He sticks a thumb in the corner of the calves mouth to open it. The calf is unaware of the benefits of the pill, and isn't necessarily excited about taking it, much like little kids and medicine.

He holds the calf's mouth open, and inserts the gun into its mouth and down it's throat.

He makes sure he keeps the gun sliding down the esophagus to the stomach, and not into the lungs. This is the tricky part that makes some people nervous, and he feels along the calf's mouth and neck as he guides the gun.

This same approach is used when tubing a calf. Tubing is when you run a special tube down a calf's throat, just like this. The tube is attached to a pouch of milk, and when you get the tube into the stomach, you allow the milk to pour into the calf's stomach. This is only done when the calf is too weak to drink milk, and is a last resort to save it's life. If you put the tube into the calf's lungs instead of his stomach, he will drown. The thought of drowning a calf makes a lot of people (especially ranch wives in my experience) nervous - they don't want to kill the calf. Kyle's level of skill in this area is much appreciated by everyone, and he can tube a calf very fast and efficiently too!

Once the gun is in place, he pushes that circle on the end, which forces the pill out of the gun and into the calf's throat, or stomach. He uses his leg to hold the calf's head still, and prevent it from trashing around. If you just put the pill in the calf's mouth, he would spit it out. We go through this necessary procedure to ensure the calf gets the medication it needs to recover from scours.

The Kyle gently pulls the gun out of the calf's mouth, and off it goes. Sometimes bad cases require multiple treatments, but a lot of times one pill will do the job in mild cases.