let’s feed some cows

Using the word ‘cows’ above loosely in place of ‘cattle’… feeding time for them this morning involved wind, ice and careful footing for man and beast. Despite the warm temperatures outside, it was still pretty cold because of the windchill.

The wind kicked up around 10PM overnight and the melting top layer of snow became crusty and an icy mess. No worries of getting equipment stuck in mud today since most of the storm front stayed to the north and we just had the wind. A big change from the day before. Not sure if we’ll get the blast of Arctic air later this week but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.

First group of cattle fed was the bull calves and their mamas. After the daily inspection of the group for any issues that may need to be addressed (like missing ear tags, injuries, are all of them there?, etc…), a hand out a handful of alfalfa cubes to tame up the calves to teach them that the humans aren’t all that bad (and to the few ‘favorite’ cows… they’re all favorites, just at different times), a check of the mineral and salt tubs and a few photos we moved on to the next group. Steps one through three happen every day… not so much for the photo op.

Next group to be fed was the heifer calves and mamas, and the two freemartin Angus.

Freemartin is a term for a sterile female cow. Both calves were a twin with a bull calf and because of the hormones from the twin bull calf the twin female calf will not have working female reproductive organs. Not all the time – something like less than 5% of female calves born with a male twin will be fertile.

Both of the freemartins were given to our daughter from our friends who run registered Angus. I think they wanted to see some black cattle in our herd. We repay their generosity by putting certified Hereford Beef stickers somewhere on their equipment. It’s kind of like the game Where’s Waldo. The first time our herd sire saw Cousin It he about gave himself whiplash doing a double-take when she walked past him. He knew his herd and she definitely was not one of his calves. He probably thought it was Betty’s calf. She goes to the Sinclair to get her calf now and probably missed out on the Hereford special that week.

But both of the freemartins were accepted by Big Ben and the rest of the herd, so now they have an identity crisis and think they’re Herefords.

Once the inspections and that is all over it was onto getting the big boys – the 2-3 year old bulls – their hay for the day. They had heard the backhoe running and slowly, one-by-one the white faces popped up from the ravine and watched us work our way back to the barnyard to load up their hay.

Oh, almost forgot another important task that goes on at this time is we look for the bale strings from where the previous bale was so the cows don’t eat any of them or they just end up smashed into the ground. The top two strings around the bale are cut then the lower strings are tied together with a piece cut from the one of the removed strings. That way when you walk out where the old bale was, find a string when you pull it up you get the whole mess instead of searching for each individual one.

Maple, Mittens and Patchy

The bulls won’t get a full bale, they get loose hay. There are not that many of them and if they received a bale they would just rough-house with it and destroy it. The females would, too, but it is much more fun of a challenge to the bulls to knock it over, try to push it around and rub on it like a scratching post. So they get loose hay. While I waited I checked on the happenings inside the barn – L the sheep was in no hurry to get out just yet. She knows the routine, as do the goats. They’ll all get let out as soon as the hay feeding with equipment part of the morning is done with. The barn kitties were on the move.

Between loads, checked out what was going on with the snowmelt in the creek.

No idea why the one tree burned…. except it was dead and rotted… duh…. but the hawthorns didn’t. Probably because we ran the goats pretty hard in this section last year and we had cleaned up some dead trees the year before. That one that burned was to be firewood this year. Guess it still was, just not for the fireplace.

Back to the house since we’re finished with the bulls and a quick trip around the coop to see what was going on. Nothing much since the wind was howling and everyone was hunkered down. Goats & L the sheep will be let out, Gus had already been fed and was in his house. Chickens had no desire to come out and Gobbler and the turkey hens were locked in their part of the coop since they’d want to be there anyways because of the cold wind. The young toms and Goblin were in the turkey run, with the quail.

The quail were quite disturbed, as you can see below, that I disrupted their feasting on the turkey food in the run.

Time to hook up the stock tank so the heifers and cows can get a drink. The other two groups has free access to water, just in this field they don’t.

And Opal was about as disturbed by my presence as the quail were in the turkey run. This time I disrupted her napping hour since she had already been up and about.

Not much else until the snow and ice go away. So until next time…

4 thoughts on “let’s feed some cows

  1. Thanks for the informative update on how these things actually work. I learned a new term – freemartin – and watching the cattle break through the crust of the snow made me laugh.

    Somehow, hearing the wind blow makes the videos all the colder.


    1. Well, it doesn’t always work as planned. Sometimes it’s Plan B, C… or Ad Lib. ;^)

      And when that wind comes off the snow covered mountains… brrrrrrrrrrrr… at least in my humble opinion.


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