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.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog post. I love the step by step photos. Hope you are having a great summer.