The tagging crew

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The tagging crew

Apr 25, 2018 | 19:49 1

The kids got home from their half day of preschool and it was a beautiful day to go tag some new arrivals. My daughter loves to spot the water bags (notice the background) and saw two while tagging and then they watched us pull a first calver. Only been at it a week and hit 25% done today. Totally different and nicer than dealing with last years mud. My wife runs baseball bat to fend off momma while I tag since our girls are quite protective.

How does everyone else tag? My neighbor with his simmentals does it by himself since they’re all mellow but that wouldn’t fly here. If the bat does not deter them then cargill deals with them after weaning.

Good luck to everyone else this year🍀 Reply With Quote
Apr 25, 2018 | 21:22 2 We only tag the purebreds at birth. I rope them, then either hoist them into the back of the truck/bale deck to tag and weigh. Sometimes we use the loader or weigh on the other side of a hot wire.
The commercial calves get tagged when we process. We vaccinate, knife cut the bulls and tag the calves. We process roughly every 3 weeks once we start calving (that way we know which are first cycle/second cycle calves by tag number). We also know that we have not missed vaccinating a calf, because any calf not vaccinated is not tagged.
The only exception would be if we treated a calf, in which case we use an orange tag (with the mom's # - if we know the mom) when we treat the calf. That way we can find it again quickly in a set of calves and also know that it has had antibiotics or some other treatment so we don't market it incorrectly. Reply With Quote
Apr 26, 2018 | 07:13 3 After every calf is born its a simple as walking out and tagging them within a day or two of them being born. If I cant walk up to the cow smack her on the nose and tag the calf, she's too wild for our operation. Many claim you need crazy cattle for them to be protective from predators but we have yet to lose a calf to coyotes.

Every calf gets tagged the same as the cow as well as a CCIA tag. The tag has a letter corresponding to the age of the cow and each letter has its own tag colour. This is all entered in Herdtrax along with colour sex ect.

Everything else (castration, vaccination ect) happens at our annual branding the second week of May.

This system seems to work well for us and can be managed with just my wife and I. Its also nice because all the cows are done and out to grass by the middle of may allowing us time to get everything else done. Reply With Quote
Apr 26, 2018 | 09:51 4 We try to tag and ring within 24 hours. During sleepy time. We drive through the herd many times a day slowly on the quad. They get pretty used to that. If we have a particularly protective mom we use what we call the shark cage. It's a feeder with many cross bars. Drop it over the calf and climb in - also good for tubing or bottle feeding if necessary. We very rarely need to use the shark cage. Reply With Quote
Apr 26, 2018 | 15:55 5 Did build a shark cage a few years back due to a new knee...but haven't used for a couple of years. Usually once a day with quad and a calf hook...like clay says, if I can't protect with only a swat on the nose, that gal is fired. ( One of the reason's I decided on Gelbvieh) I don't even have a handling system on there wintering calving ground...so things have to go well.....
Should just be starting now, but due to some friendly neighbors bulls, we have about 1/3 done....lucky the bull that got in with heifers was also I with a group of heifers.......I find this is the biggest issue with later calving.
Good luck to all....amazing what can happen in about 10 days of decent weather....any bets when we start hearing the "drought" word...;-) Reply With Quote
Apr 27, 2018 | 21:07 6 Our solution to protection while tagging is this modified stock rack - weld a lifting bar over the top then carry it with the loader bucket. Works very well in our situation doing day old calves in a field situation, maybe not a cowboy solution or something for the open range but it works for me. I have a little floored area at one end if you need to take a calf home with the mother following. We don't really need it on most of the cows but I tend to use it anyway - as an attack survivor I've learnt to be cautious lol.
Got nailed a decade ago by a bought-in overly "ranchy" Angus cow - just trying to get close enough to see the sex of calf when she charged me out of the blue. What you wouldn't believe until it happens to you is the velocity a cow can achieve over 15 feet from a standing start. Her head hit my chest going like a train, right over me and she luckily kept going with calf on her heel and didn't hang around to finish me off - I was down and out with broken collarbone, cracked ribs and a nicked lung. The point of this tale is you guys relying on a baseball bats and such - I had a stick with me and believe me you don't even have time to raise it in this situation before she hits you.
BE CAREFUL it is an extremely dangerous task - even if your cows are normally quiet you don't always know their state of mind. I had a newly calved heifer come at me last week - something that we normally never see with heifers - then I walked a little further and came across a coyote - I reckon it had been bugging the heifer before I came along and had her wound up. Reply With Quote
Apr 28, 2018 | 05:34 7 That's a great idea Grassfarmer, we just grab the closest bale feeder and drop it over the calf and ring and tag them. We had just bought out a small herd of angus cross cows and yes they seemed to be really calm that is until they calved... its amazing how fast you can back pedal when that cow has her head down and charging you. Had one really close call so now we just take the bale feeder all the time, I'd like one of those calf cages for our ranger but not willing to spend the $3500 on one just yet... Reply With Quote
Apr 28, 2018 | 15:27 8 Being fat and slow, (and now old) I am quite careful.....and will likely go back to shark gage soon. There is one girl I do wait until she is away from her calf before I do anything, although it is only her look, she really hasn't done anything, With the quad, there is always a bit of protection....and I do notice some days I am bolder than others....but, what ever the system, be careful. Reply With Quote
Apr 28, 2018 | 18:48 9 Been lucky to not been pummeled into the ground much by unruly mommas. Some I just won’t mess with if they charge. Have a loop stick I made for catching the faster ones. Most times get them tagged before they get that fast. Had our share of miserable ones when I was little. Can remember some real rodeos the family had. We laugh about them now cause no one seemed to get hurt. Today we don’t have those miserable types just mostly flighty idiots if a problem. Reply With Quote
Apr 29, 2018 | 10:50 10 This is interesting. One thing we have found at our place, since we calve in May/June and often in big pastures with a lot of terrain and bush is that our treatment rate is higher on the purebred calves than the commercial ones, and our survival is a bit lower. This is from a set of cows that are pretty closely related (pure and commercial). I attribute this to our tagging the purebreds. In our situation we have to get at those calves as soon as we see them or we may never have a chance to catch them again. I think that interference (especially with heifers) can create issues. Reply With Quote
Apr 29, 2018 | 21:16 11 That doesn't really surprise me Sean, cows manage better without human interference. I think that the upset factor will be worse calving when the grass is green like you do versus calving on banked grass as we do. We find the calves hang with the mothers better but once you have tall green grass more of the calf's wild instincts come in to play and they creep under fences to hide in long grass. I hate calving that late - cows separated from the calves and can't get to them, udders getting hefted, calves scouring, dehydrated calves, maggot fly troubles. Each to their own but an April 15th to May 30th calving periods is what I prefer - ideally they would all calve first cycle too ! Reply With Quote
Apr 30, 2018 | 07:44 12 Interesting observations........Here, since they are mostly purebred, I have nothing to compare them to. But, they normally calve on swath grazing...this year I am seeding 1/4 of their "winter" site to grass and will do banked grass. It seems to take only a few days for the cows to accept the quad driving thru them without getting up much..unless I get real close..and majority of calves I can walk right up to or grab with hook on foot. Do have to "follow" a few the hook and quad, but try not to run them...although occasionally I do have to.
Their wintering site is usually down to a 60 acre piece during calving, quite open which really helps. My greatest fear of going to spring calving was the "wildness" of cows and calves on open fields, but maybe the older cows are still helping to keep calmness in heard....I also hand pail feed my replacement heifers so think that helps.
Have not noticed losing calves due to handling....once they are on the ground and sucking, really have had very few issues. Occasionally, if mom has too much milk and it gets really hot, there has been an issue, but seem to be culling the real heavy milkers. ( Which helped when Jan/Feb calving.)
Like GF, like that later April to June 1 calving....if there is a calf without a tag, it was pretty much born after June 1st, but this year you certainly didn't want to be too early in April.
But, all this is easier as well, due to lowering numbers....at about 60 and if any neighbors sell the rented land, it will speed up my retirement plan (or lack of). Reply With Quote
Apr 30, 2018 | 09:10 13 It seems here if we don’t handle the calves when they’re a day old or less they are way more wild. The last 6-8 to calve sometimes don’t get tagged and those are the crazy buggers at weaning time. I guess they also missed branding as well which wouldn’t help. Reply With Quote
Apr 30, 2018 | 10:48 14 Well....as I was posting this morning, there was a gnawing feeling ..usually when you boast about how good things were going....and yeah, after tagging first calf, found a dead one....mamma has a bigger udder, 13 years old and I had put her on the "fired" list a week ago. Looks like her calf wasn't sucking, but I also don't get too upset anymore. The 20-30 minutes I spend with the cows each day sure beats the 4- 6 hours of feeding, handling, etc in the "old way"....so I feel this is a "more than fair" trade off. Also the cheque f4rom cull cows in June doesn't hurt. Reply With Quote
Apr 30, 2018 | 11:39 15 I think that's your "last calved" on green grass affect Woodland rather than any positive effect of handling at day old.

Working on these projects gets old perfecho - I had one older cow to bring in this year with one dry quarter and the other three welded shut - no way a calf could ever have started on them. Thankfully we get very, very few issues like these.

A further thought on your observation Sean - won't your purebreds have less heterosis by definition than your commercials? I wonder if that accounts for the more trouble/poorer survival versus handling them? Reply With Quote
Apr 30, 2018 | 21:01 16
Quote Originally Posted by grassfarmer View Post
I think that's your "last calved" on green grass affect Woodland rather than any positive effect of handling at day old.

Working on these projects gets old perfecho - I had one older cow to bring in this year with one dry quarter and the other three welded shut - no way a calf could ever have started on them. Thankfully we get very, very few issues like these.

A further thought on your observation Sean - won't your purebreds have less heterosis by definition than your commercials? I wonder if that accounts for the more trouble/poorer survival versus handling them?
A lot of our commercials are straightbred AN. We were selling a lot of F1 heifers prior to our latest expansion. They are all bred the same, fed the same and handled the same, with about the same amount of outcrossing. We don't have issues with calves that are a few hours old/day old so much, other than trying to catch them. If we happen to tag/weigh a calf that is still wet, it seems to mess life up. I don't think I can replace birthweights with DNA testing just yet.

Forgot to mention why I like May. The only real wrecks I have ever had calving cows were in February (purchased heifers) and April. I pretty much strongly dislike the month of April (at least the first 25 days) for calving cows. Reply With Quote
Apr 30, 2018 | 21:55 17 Yeah, I never tag a calf until it's suckled for sure as I know that can mess up the process. I still need to catch them on day one or you can't catch them after that - heifer's calves are slower for a couple of days.

On the weighing thing why bother? I've finally quit weighing bull calves this year as it really was meaningless. We know we don't have calving trouble genetics in our gene pool so really I'm weighing bulls to satisfy customer curiosity - I know the cattle and the genetics - they don't. How can people unfamiliar with my herd judge whether a 70lb calf out of a heifer or a 92lb calf out of a cow will produce smaller birthweights given that they are out of the same gene pool? Maybe more of an issue with the mainstream purebred guys where most are outcrossing to widely varying genetics. I wonder how many purebred guys accurately report birthweights anyway? I'm to the point it's got to be built on trust - if guys don't trust what I'm selling they can go bull shop elsewhere. Reply With Quote
GDR
Apr 30, 2018 | 22:48 18
Quote Originally Posted by grassfarmer View Post
Yeah, I never tag a calf until it's suckled for sure as I know that can mess up the process. I still need to catch them on day one or you can't catch them after that - heifer's calves are slower for a couple of days.

On the weighing thing why bother? I've finally quit weighing bull calves this year as it really was meaningless. We know we don't have calving trouble genetics in our gene pool so really I'm weighing bulls to satisfy customer curiosity - I know the cattle and the genetics - they don't. How can people unfamiliar with my herd judge whether a 70lb calf out of a heifer or a 92lb calf out of a cow will produce smaller birthweights given that they are out of the same gene pool? Maybe more of an issue with the mainstream purebred guys where most are outcrossing to widely varying genetics. I wonder how many purebred guys accurately report birthweights anyway? I'm to the point it's got to be built on trust - if guys don't trust what I'm selling they can go bull shop elsewhere.
Guys want to know birth weights whether they mean much or not. I bought a bull a couple years ago, seller had him at 72lbs birth weight and used a star rating for calving ease in the sale catalogue. This bull was a "3 star heifer bull", I checked the dam to make sure it wasn't a heifer so thought all was good. When I got the papers turned out he was a 72lbs twin but that little detail wasn't in the catalogue. Needless to say he hasn't been used on heifers again. Moral of the story, more info the better. Reply With Quote
May 1, 2018 | 00:15 19
Quote Originally Posted by grassfarmer View Post
I think that's your "last calved" on green grass affect Woodland rather than any positive effect of handling at day old.
They calve at home in a 20 acre field just like all the others. The only difference is there’s the special (old, lame, twins, etc..) pairs with them instead. I can’t chalk the difference up to anything else. Reply With Quote
May 1, 2018 | 00:37 20 Grassfarmer nice cage. We added a mangate to ours so you can catch an animal in the field for treatment or pulling bulls and load them on the trailer or into a squeeze. If someone is by themselves you throw the cage and squeeze on the wagon and bring the cow home in a squeeze. Definitely raise a few eyebrows on the way home from the neighbors. Works great though.



After 30 years a few patches have been required 😉 Reply With Quote
May 1, 2018 | 06:33 21
Quote Originally Posted by GDR View Post
Guys want to know birth weights whether they mean much or not. I bought a bull a couple years ago, seller had him at 72lbs birth weight and used a star rating for calving ease in the sale catalogue. This bull was a "3 star heifer bull", I checked the dam to make sure it wasn't a heifer so thought all was good. When I got the papers turned out he was a 72lbs twin but that little detail wasn't in the catalogue. Needless to say he hasn't been used on heifers again. Moral of the story, more info the better.
I think you are drawing the wrong conclusion from the experience - you need to deal with someone you can trust to have your best interests at heart, not more un-verified information from someone you can't necessarily trust. Reply With Quote
May 1, 2018 | 07:25 22 A lot of folks tape or estimate calf weights, both corral and grass calvers. I am not that smart. We weigh, but we also 50K DNA all the purebred calves. By the time they are for sale they have a set of EPD with the same accuracy as if they had sired 15-20 calves, and have both sire and dam confirmed, so I actually trust that value quite a bit. I agree about the trust thing. Reply With Quote
Jun 10, 2018 | 16:24 23 I missed this thread till now.

I start out with the best of intentions, and I go out every few days and catch and tag 20 or 30 calves ring, dehorn as required, check for navels etc. Then seeding starts, and tagging loses priority until about now, they are much more fun to catch at a month old, night works best.

I've been mauled a few times, usually by the friendly cow who I least expected, and wasn't prepared for, so let my guard down. A couple of times by really nasty cows. Once by two cows at once, knocked the wind out of me after they got me down. One particularly mean cow pushed me right through a tight 5 wire fence, I was much braver once I was on the other side.

I have full respect for how fast they can move, and how hard they can hit. Just watch a really mad cow who is afraid of me, as she takes out her wrath on the cow beside her, wow I am glad that wasn't me. If I can bluff them, then they get to stay for another year. You learn fast not to show fear, and to sound as mean as possible, if that doesn't work, it is likely too late for the stick. I always drag the calf to a fence or feeder etc. so I can sit with my back to a wall so the cow can't get behind me and out of sight, never a corner though. I don't sit down on the calf until I am certain me and the mother have come to an amicable agreement.

I used to think being on the quad made me invincible, until 2 years ago, a new cow to the herd T-boned the trike (Quad was broke down) flipped it over, sent me flying, and fortunately got her foot caught in the racks slowing her down enough for me to get up and away.

Most of our herd are absolute pets and have no issues at all, many will come and lick me while tagging, but it only takes one to keep from trusting any of them. Reply With Quote
Jun 30, 2018 | 20:18 24 I'd never make a cowboy. I wrote this piece a few years ago after a near wreck while trying to rope calves after I'd gone down on the job for a month or more.

Wishin'

I'm an eastern boy with western dreams
but somehow in spite of all my schemes
I flog this Ontario farm.

I stumbled on this ranching site
and read the threads with great delight
and learned of tie or dally.

My little herd would soon get lost
if on those western plains were tossed
and scattered o’er those hills.

But they don't go far for feed and forage
one half mile at most from storage
and seldom out of sight.

A "roundup” is just a few minutes work
the quad starts up and their ears all perk
for they know that means fresh grass.

The art of roping to me is Greek
mostly unneeded so to speak;
you don't need to rope baby bovines

unless you're slack and miss a few
tags and bags right when they're new.
And slack is what I was.

So what to do with month old calves
with no corral and not by halves
do the little doggies run.

They sleep too light and I'm too slow
to grab them when their eyelids show
and ropin's not my trade.

But I drove to town to peruse a rope
a thirty? a fifty foot? I grab and grope
and settle on the shorter one.

But then there's nylon or leather -
they're awful thin and light as a feather
one slide and it'll burn my hands.

These ropin' gloves should do the trick
but man they don't seem very thick
so I leave them there.
This rope seems stiff, don't have much flex
and how do I get it over their necks
when I can't even hold it open in a loop.

I'm an eastern boy with western dreams
but somehow in spite of all my schemes
I can't rope on this Ontario farm.

But I head on back to catch a calf
my family tries hard not to laugh
as I coil my nylon line.

Some ride a bay and others a dun
but my ride ain't near as much fun
it's called a Honda.

It has no horn, electric or saddle
the muffler's shot, it makes a rattle
there's no sneakin' up on 'em.

So I park my ride and by the water trough
stands a momma cow and sure enough
her untagged baby boy beside her.

He's a strappin' chunk as hard as nails
the kind of calf where nothin' ails
and I really have to wonder

if a man my age should even try
to rope this muscular month old guy
and would a catch be "lucky?

But the momma moves and he's in the clear
so I shoot the rope out over his ear
and the battle's on.

My "lucky" shot has nailed him fair
he don't just run, he takes to air
I believe I've caught a demon!

The BELLAR! The BAWL! The TWIST! The BUCK!
Surviving this will be pure luck
as I work him toward my ride.

His wind cuts off and he drops like a rock
I'm scared and almost froze by shock -
what if I kill the beggar?

Nowhere to dally so I have to tie
grab a piggin' string and before he die
he's hobbled and slacken the rope.

He catches wind and works them hobbles
the four-wheeler holds but surely bobbles
and he never stops that bawl.

Well the mommas know that bawl means trouble
they all come chargin' in on the double
and add their moos to chorus.

But the ears get pierced and the ring fits tight
and the angry calf with a bit less fight
leaves shackles and rope behind.

One down and, oh, ‘bout a dozen to go
should I dive right in or take it slow
well I'm lucky so why wait.

I'm an eastern boy with western dreams
but somehow in spite of all my schemes
I ride a Honda not a horse.

So I coil my rope and set up to throw left,
right hand on throttle I'm not too deft
if a calf comes in my range.

Natcherly the first one comes up on the right
I toss with my left and what a stupid plight
as I rope my right front tire.

Cuz my coils are pinned tween knee and tank
I never thought to leave some lank
how do I hold the extra?

Cowboys are gennelmen but I think they'd smile
In fact, they'd maybe laugh a while
at the spectacle I made…

Well a lot of tries and I rope another
two down then three, can I catch his brother
I'd never make a cowboy.

Because the calf I'd picked was behind a thistle
and when I rolled the loop and let it whistle
I roped the spiny prickle.

So I yanked that cactus back.

Then I pick one more and make my try
set a wide loop and let'er fly
toward the calf and momma.

Mighta bin the hand of God or beginners luck
that the loop stayed empty and never struck
cuz I almost roped the momma.

I coiled it back and wiped my brow
If I'da caught her I be learnin' now
Why you don't tie off, just dally.

That's enough for today.

I'm an eastern boy with western dreams
but somehow in spite of all my schemes
I flog this Ontario farm Reply With Quote