This weekend, Ms. Jeannie was invited to a semi-annual cattle round-up at her friend’s organic farm. She had never been to a cattle-round up before. It all sounded very exciting!
On this farm, the round up occurs twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. The purpose is to take inventory of the herd, worm all the cows and castrate the baby boy bulls that have been born between roundups.
Being somewhat of a city slicker herself, Ms. Jeannie was excited to put on her rubber boots and spend a day romping around the farm. She brought along her camera to document the experience.
Starting at day break (which is farmers speak for bright and early 6:30am) it took about fours hours from start to finish to move 100 cows through a head gate shoot, where they would be quickly examined,wormed and castrated. The cows on this farm are 100% free range over many acres, so first, they had to be herded together.
Once corraled into one paddock they keep moving into smaller and smaller fenced areas.
For most cows, this is a routine procedure, sort of like a doctor’s check-up for us. They don’t love it – but they endure it just fine. Waiting at the holding gate is like waiting in a doctor’s office. Everyone is antsy to get their examination over with.
While the cows were cueing up Ms. Jeannie spotted the smallest cow in the herd…
…a baby born just 3 weeks ago! You can see see him in this picture with the little white spot on his side.
To keep the cows organized right before they line up for the shoot, they are broken into groups according to size.Which meant Mama and Baby had to be seperated. Baby went to the holding pen with all the other calves to wait
his turn while Mama lined up with the heifers in the shoot.
They both called for each other when they were separated, which pulled at Ms. Jeannie’s heart.
The older cows traveled through the shoot relatively easily. Here is one getting wormed. Which looks like a giant tube of toothpaste that gets spread onto their back.
Some look even downright content like this one…
but the babies are a little more rambunctious since it is their first time in such a confined area. This one below kept trying to figure out how to get her head unstuck.
Mama went through the shoot, was vaccinated and wormed. Her whole procedure took about four minutes.
Ms. Jeannie was surprised to see that when each cow is released from the shoot – they sort of spring out of the gate, sort of half jumping like a bunny rabbit. Free at last! When Mama was released she stood off to the side, just feet away to wait for her baby who was about 60 cows in…way in the back of the calf group. Mama is looking for Baby here in this photo…
Alas! Mama spots him through the fence!
When he got close enough in line, Mama reassured him that everything was going to be fine and gave him a kiss for good luck!
Finally it was his turn in the shoot. His head was collared in place for his exam.
This may look like it hurts, but it doesn’t. Holding them in like this protects the cows from getting over excited and from breaking a leg or hitting their head against the metal rails.
Mama waited next to him the whole time. She touched noses for extra support…
Baby wanted to put his own spin on this whole head lock thing, by throwing a leg out. He was such a little guy – there was a bit of extra space in the holding collar. Why not air out a leg while you have the chance. It’s one step closer to freedom afterall!
Mama advised that this was probably not a good idea.
Moments later, the collar let him go and he was out! Mom and baby headed off together to mull over the whole experience.
Ms. Jeannie was struck by what a wonderful and encouraging mama this cow was. And how Baby really depended on her for moral support. Seeing the two of them interact together was the highlight of Ms. Jeannie’s day!
Etsy is full of whimsical items that celebrate the wonderful relationship between animal moms and their babies. If you need some inspiration this Mother’s Day, take a look…