Here at the ranch, the guys have been weaning calves.
Due to the drought, and reduced irrigation water the ranch began weaning calves a month earlier than normal. Usually right now the crew is preconditioning, but that got done in July and now they're weaning.
They're weaning a bit differently this year to help reduce stress on the calves. First the pairs are all brought to the white corrals where the cows are separated from the calves. The cows hang out in a nearby pen while the calves are given their second booster of vaccines (they would have had an initial dose three weeks earlier at preconditioning), a dose of wormer and pour on, and their weaning weight is recorded. In addition, the Genex progeny calves get an EID tag placed in their ear so their carcasses can be tracked through the slaughtering facility once they're harvested. Steer calves also get a second dose of Ralgro, which is an implant the size of a pencil eraser that is placed in their ear to promote growth.
Then the calves are turned back in with the cows, and taken back down the road to a pasture. A few weeks later, the calves are separated again and fence line weaned. The ranch has about three places where we can do this, but more than three groups of pairs. So that's why the calves are turned back out with the cows to wait their turn, essentially. I think it also helps the calves stress level, because the day that they're actually weaned from the cow - they're not being worked. I would imagine that this also helps with vaccine efficacy, but that's just my opinion.
Once the bawl has worn off, the now dry cows are moved to a fresh pasture and the weaned calves are sorted by sex. The steers get taken to Double M's feedlot, while the heifers are taken (or remain) at the white corral for development.
It's a lot of steps....and a lot of trips up and down the road....but hopefully the reduced stress levels on the calf make the extra work by the crew worthwhile.
The pictures in this post were all taken the day I helped give the weaning protocol to the first calf heifer pairs before we turned them back out to pasture for a week or so before separation and the actual weaning.
Clint tells me that all of the calves have had their weaning shots and weights recorded, but that there are four more groups to separate and wean; they hope to be done by the end of next week.
So there'll be a few more trips down the road.