For Christmas this year, Clint got me a Calf Catcher.
I'll be honest - I was a little surprised, but I got to use it this weekend and I'm sold on it.
It's basically a cart that attaches to a four wheeler (or side by side, if you buy the attachment) and it lets you "catch" a calf out in the field so you can tag it, weigh it, etc. without having to worry about the cow trying to eat you for lunch. There's a little table that drops down once the calf is caught, and you can either lay the calf on the table and work on it - or you can close the side and allow the calf to stand. Either way, the calf is totally contained and can't get away and you have some time to do things well without having to struggle with a calf or worry about a protective mother. Then once you're done, the door in the back just swings open and you can let the calf out to it's mother.
And it turns on a dime!
It also works as a nice calf cart, and we hauled a few to the barn this weekend. It really holds a calf nicely, and the calf can't really jump out - or scrape their legs or get a leg stuck out as you're taking them into the barn. There's also enough distance from the four wheeler that almost all of the cows just followed right along, nosing their calves along the way.
This picture shows the table folded up, and secured with the calf inside. The calf is off of the ground, and the grating is small enough that it can't really stick a leg out but the cow can see and smell the calf and follow along.
Clint also bought a set of weigh bars and a read-out for ours, that sit right below where the calf is standing in the picture above. That way we can just weigh the calf right there on the table.
Before we'd hog tie the calf with a pulling strap, and then lift it off of the ground and weigh it on a heavy duty electronic fish scale. The hard thing about that is you have to hold the scale away from you enough to read the weight, and that's hard when you're holding up a 80 lb calf that's struggling.
We're still waiting for the read-out to be delivered (they were back ordered) and ours is supposed to be here this week. I'm looking forward to tagging calves with it this weekend.
And not only does it catch calves....it also catches kids!
Clint gave Reagan & Royce a ride in it on Saturday to go check on a pair of twins that'd been born that morning and it worked so well! They were safe (and contained) and had a great view as they all rode across the field.
So while the Calf Catcher may have caught me by surprise at Christmas, I'm thankful it's around and looking forward to using it this calving season.