Working Cattle

It’s that time of year when we start breeding fall cows. Last week Josh and the kids worked cattle together. It reminded me of the cow work we did in the spring. Basically, it was all the same routine, just a different season. The cows were sorted into different breeding groups and the calves separated from them. It’s much easier and safer working the cows apart from the calves. The CIDRs were pulled. These are progesterone implants the cow receives to help her come into what we call heat or begin to ovulate They are given shots to also help this process. Everything is time bred—meaning all on one day. Then, we put a bull in with them to clean up all the ones that don’t take AI. We had heifers to breed on one day, then bred the cows another day. Sometimes we are also synchronizing females to use in our embryo transfer program (ET). We didn’t have any this round, but it’s a similar process with using hormones to bring both recipient and donor cow into heat, collecting the embryos from the donor, then inserting the embryo into the recipient (or surrogate) cow.

Because we have two calving groups, one in the spring and one in the fall, breeding season also takes place twice a year. While every day in ranching can be different, there are some things that remain the same or follow a pattern, including breeding, calving, and weaning.

I wanted to share what some of this looks like for us on our ranch. Because the kids were out of school this spring, they were able to help Josh even more with cow work. I captured them all working together.

kids working cattleAngus and Hereford calvesAngus and Hereford calvesAngus and Hereford calvesworking cattleworking cattlekids working cattleworking cattleworking cattleworking cattleworking cattle

Taken from my IG post…

The other morning we woke up before the sun to gather spring cows. The kids helped Josh, his brother and dad, sort the recipient cows (who will get embryos put in them next week) and the rest of the cows into groups to be artificially inseminated.

I’m usually in my office working, and am not needed for all the day-today ranch work, so it was nice change to take part for the morning. I loved watching them work together. Since the kids are big enough to help, they have become part of the crew. Everyone has a job to do, and they do it well. My BIL ran the chute, my FIL was pulling CIDRs (progesterone implants that help cows cycle), my husband gave shots, and the big kids each had their place—at the gate, pushing cows in the alleyway, and helping bring cows up with our hired man.

I heard the usual sounds of mooing cows and calves, the hum of the hydraulic chute, and squeaking of the gates as they swung open and closed. The work was relatively calm and efficient. I won’t say it’s always this way because you’re working with humans and animals—things can go wrong, but everyone knew their job and worked together to get it done. For a ranch wife and mom, these are the moments—seeing my kids and their dad working together—that make my heart swell.

Sure, it’s hot and dirty—or cold and wet—depending on the season, and by the end of the work, you’re guaranteed to be covered in a little cow sh**. But, it will wash.

I realize I’m the sappy and sentimental one; they just did the work and didn’t think the day was anything special. Being able to see it and capture it was definitely special for me.

I never want to take for granted we get to live here, raising kids, cattle—and producing beef.


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