With calving season in full swing, there have been many articles in the media about the harm done to calves when assessing them and ear tagging them after their birth.
Some have even stated that a rancher is in the business strictly for the income.
Today, I feel the need to rebuke them.
If you follow us at all, whether it be here or social media, you know we have a love for our family, our lifestyle, our world and our animals.
You also know Flower Boy is an Animal Whisperer!
It does not matter where or when he steps into the pasture, the cattle come running!
He often spends hours in one pasture playing with the calves.
He talks to them, pets them, and secures a real bond with them.
This is also the reason our momma cows are so tame and allow us to tag their babies easily.
When the babies are tagged, Flower Boy never turns his back on them.
He always makes up with them and shows them love.
I watch him apologize to each calf tagged.
If a calf happens to get separated from it’s momma during tagging, Flower Boy is quick to seek out momma and direct her calf back to her.
He will stand among the herd, watching, to make sure momma knows he did not hurt her baby.
The tagging is necessary for identification of the pairs.
The calves are tagged with the same number ear tag as their momma’s.
The left ear is tagged on heifer calves and the right ear is tagged on bull calves.
The tagging does not hurt the calf.
It is much like piercing our ears.
Yes, it stings for a bit, but it does not hurt the calf.
For the past two years, every time we tag a calf, I am reminded of a saying that has been thrown around the cattle industry.
It goes something like this…
“We’ve been tagging before tagging was cool.”
While we have the calf held for tagging, the calf is assessed for health, sex, and approximate weight.
All is written in a log book kept in the feed truck.
We attempt to make the assessment and tagging within the first 24 hours of birth.
This doesn’t always happen, as the mommas like to hide their babies.
Therefore, we may spend a few days searching out the calf.
This is a sign of a good momma.
We do have a few mommas that get pretty protective of their babies.
Those calves don’t get tagged until all the cattle are brought in for working.
At this time, the calves will get a round of preventive shots, mommas will get wormed and assessed.
After the working, the cattle will be moved to summer pasture.
Ranchers aren’t just in the business for the income.
Many dollars are spent on herd health, feed, hay, equipment and general operation of the ranch.
The income line isn’t always high.
There is just something about the miracle of life when you watch the birth of a calf.
Time spent just you and your rancher, under the open sky in the middle of a pasture, along side a herd of cattle.
When you are there, you know what you do is worth while and has meaning.
You feel a deep pull to your heart and gut when you read or hear others give a negative opinion of what you do.
It is the love for the cattle and what we do that keep us going.