I wrote about this in an earlier post, but here’s the thing: If you’ve never spent time around a cattle operation but walk around spouting rhetoric about antibiotic-free meat, yadda, yadda, yadda, because it makes you feel morally justified about your steak or burger or whatever, you really ought to cool your britches and head out to a farm.
Just so you know.
This is our head honcho cattle guy.
At least twice a day, he roams around the farm to “count the cows.” This is Missouri speak for gather-up-your-booze-and-your-buddies. I learned this last night at Jon’s sister’s house, when I asked her what their late-dad had been like. She said he’d been a partier, much like Jon. She said he’d “check the cows” every day with his best friend, which was really just an excuse to drink bourbon. So there.
Part of counting the cows, aside from the actual counting (we do this to make sure that any missing ones can be quickly identified–whether they’re sick or dead or simply lost in the woods), is also feeding now that the grass is chewed down to nubs.
Normally we just feed hay or silage from the summer, but for a special treat, the cows get range cubes, which are like cow crack. They go crazy for the stuff! They’ll come running from every corner of the field for it!
Like these little babes:
Calves are dropping like crazy lately, which is adorable and wonderful and sweet. They’re eighty pounds at birth, but we’ve got a couple two or three new additions on the farm that came out a lot smaller than normal. They’re so short that they can just stand right underneath their mamas and suckle.
Now, wouldn’t it have been nice if I’d gotten a photo? I didn’t, but Honcho did.
In an earlier post about antibiotics in meat, I mentioned that this time of year, with its drastic temperature swings, is a tough time to make a new life for a baby calf. Their little systems are very sensitive. If they get the scours (diarrhea), their risk of death increases a lot due to dehydration. I happened to catch Honcho administering medication to the little guys and thought I’d show you how it’s done, because it’s really not the ugly terrible thing that it’s picked up a reputation for. I’d equate the frenzy for antibiotic-free meat to something pretty similar to the anti-vaccine crowd. But that’s another argument. Anyway, here is how we do it:
See her? What a sweetness. You have to hold them down while you doctor them because they can really kick the snot out of you. That was kind of my job, so I had a tough time getting a good range of pictures. Not to mention one of myself handling the little lady.
Here, the calf is getting a shot of Banamine, which is kind of like kiddo aspirin to relieve pain. It is non-steroidal.
The blue tool used in this photo is called a balling gun. It’s designed to push the pill into the back of a cow’s mouth so that they swallow it quickly. Honcho gave the calves two pills, antibiotics called Baytril and Clavamox. Takes about two or three minutes to administer the meds and then the cow is free to go back to the herd.
See? She’s feeling better already.