Tuesday, April 20, 2010

how to tag a bull

I wouldn't recommend walking up to a bull and piercing his ear. It might end badly for you. So, I'll outline an easier way below.

First, lead him into the chute with some sweet-feed.
Ever heard the saying, "You catch more flies with honey?" The same is true with cows, too. They'll follow you right into the pen if you're holding some sweet feed.

But, after he's in the chute, there's only one way out and you have to "coax" him along. This usually means twisting his tail and hitting his hiney. I even got in on this action because he's a little more skittish of me than of the boys, so he moved a little better.

Now he's moving toward the headgate (that yellow thing).
See my dad standing there (look past the belly, sorry dad, but you knew I would post this for mom to see). His hand is on a lever. Right now the bull can walk right on through, but just when his head is clear, dad will pull the lever and the gate will squeeze around his neck so he's immobile.

Oh, well, Greg did it instead.
Maybe dad was getting conscientious about the belly shots.

Now, I've moved around to the opposite side. Greg is using his knife to cut off the old tag.

And is now replacing it with a new one.

Why tag cows? 2 reasons:
  • So you can identify which is which. When we vaccinate or treat them, or if they have babies, we need to know which cow has had what done to them and which calf belongs to which momma.
  • We also put fly tags on them in the spring to keep flies out of their eyes. Flies get on poop and when the flies land on the cows' eyes, they get pink eye. So, we try to prevent it by putting these really smelly tags (and they're even more potent if you're pregnant), on their ears to keep the flies away from the cows faces.
We also tag the little ones too, but they're much easier.

A new calf weighs about 100 lbs, so all it takes is one person holding and the other piercing to get the job done. Hey, we even castrated this little one after he got his ear pierced, so I'm sure he didn't mind the earring.

Fun farm stuff, I tell you!

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