Monday, September 22, 2014

Vaccinating calves

        Yesterday we got to spend a busy morning vaccinating our new weanling calves.  We weaned our 130 calves a few weeks ago and they have adjusted well to life in the feed lot away from their mothers.  Want to see and hear the calves as we were weaning go here Weaning Calves. Now that the calves are fully weaned it is time to vaccinate them against any illnesses they would possibly get while living out the rest of their life. Just like children need vaccinations to keep healthy and prevent them from caring diseases that might make others sick, we need to vaccinate the calves so they stay healthy. Some of the vaccines are given through shots and others are given by nasal spray.
       The pictures I have are from years past. Since my hands were busy helping yesterday I didn't have time to take photos and I knew I had these I could use.

         In this photo I am administering some nasal spray medication to a calf. It is a lot like getting flu mist and doesn't hurt them at all. Any shots that the animal needs we give in the neck. We choose to use this area because it is not where high quality cuts of meat come from and it is easily accessed for giving the injection. As you can see we use a head gate system to hold the animals in place while we are giving them medication. We use the head gate by closing the gate on the animals neck while they are trying to walk through. This does not choke the animal but hold them place until we open the gate back up. The one running the head gate has to be quick to close the gate at just the right time. Vaccinating calves is not an easy job and takes quick hands, strength, and patience.
          Here you can see that vaccinating cattle is a all hands on deck job. We have a double ally system leading up to the head gate which works with cattle psychology. The animals move better when they see another animal next to them. You can see my sister standing up looking over the alley making sure the cattle keep moving forward. My brother in the green is working the tailgate which he closes when a calf come through and prevent more than one animal getting into the area where we are giving the medication. Along with working the tailgate he is giving a topical medication. My husband Paul, in the yellow shirt, is the one who runs the head gate and gives many of the injections. Sometimes the calves get 3-4 injections at a time. My brother-in-law Bill is in the brown shirt and is recording information. He needs to write down the ear tag number, which is like their name or identification, of each animal and the weight. He also records any other important information regarding the animals. Another important person in this process is my father who is in the back working with the cattle. He is the one who makes sure there are always animals ready to come into the alley so the ones giving medicaiton don't have to wait for more animals. These are the basic jobs that need to be performed when we vaccinate the cattle. It does take a lot of teamwork and understanding what your job is in the process.
        Here I am holding my youngest when he was 2 weeks old and doing the recoding while sitting in the pickup cab.
      The kids enjoy watching and being part of the activity when we need to vaccinate the cattle. They learn to do simple jobs like putting ear tags onto the taggers. From a young age they see how a we care for the animals and how to act around cattle. They are learning that cattle are big strong animals and need to be worked with carefully. They are also learning that we need to give the animals medications at different times to keep them healthy and treat illnesses.
     Vaccination days can be stressful but they are also times were we get to work together as a family and see the fruits of our labors in the animals we are working with.
        Looking through my photos I came across this one from a few years back that I love. The summer seems to be over all to quickly and fall is upon us. The crops will soon be harvested and the cows brought in from the pasture. I can't believe another summer is gone. It has been a good one.

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