If I were the Martha Stewart of minis, I'd call these the "good things" because you never know what you'll learn here
I was on a conference call earlier this week with a friend and her client having a newborn calf. This call would have been happy and easy if the calving supplies were all gathered up and at hand, as you can guess that wasn't the case.
- Towels can dry the calf, clean your hands and be used as a blanket for a chilled calf. You can even roll the calf onto the towel and drag it if needed.
- Iodine can be used for splashing on the calf umbilical stump to help clean it and dry it which closes off the "opening" that bacteria could enter causing navel/joint ill.
- Flashlight, well you know if things are going to go wrong it will happen at night so be prepared.
- Chains, called OB chains, are used in the even you must assist the cow in delivering the calf. Learn to use chains and how to apply them or you could do more harm than good to the calf and the cow. Chains are easily washed and sanitized unlike the nylon straps.
- Trauma sheers are about as handy as a good pocket knife. They can cut through fabric, umbilical cords and even wire in an emergency. We keep a set in each ranch cart. They seem to get less slippery than a pocket knife and can be used by kids if necessary.
- Thread can be used to tie off the umbilical cord or even suture a wound if you are comfortable with such procedures. (Think field medic, just something until the vet arrives.)
- Work gloves can help your grip in slippery situations and if you are dragging logs away from birthing site. Some cows will hide in the worst possible places.
- Medical gloves are really handy as they can be put over dirty hands to "clean" them instantly or be used as a way to tie off something that's bleeding due to their stretchy nature. You can also grab samples of something you may need to show the vet later and then turn them inside out without having to touch the item.
Fertility is the single most important trait when it comes to the economics of cattle. Simply put, your cattle make money when they make more cattle. A female that hasn't calved during the year cost money to maintain and didn't make a calf that could be sold to offset her costs. Ask yourself this, would you pay an employee to not come to work? (If the answer is yes call me and I will fill out a job application.) That's what happens when they don't produce a calf every year.
There are always lots of questions about breeding females. Going back to your old school days, we'll call them the 5 "W's" (who, what, when, where and why.)
Getting solid advice could be the most valuable part of buying an animal from an experienced breeder. Advice that helps you steer clear of problems and keeps you from wasting both time and money. We constantly get calls with a variety of questions regarding purchasing and breeding cattle. So here are a few good rules to follow:
Here is our vaccination protocol. It has detailed explanations on how vaccines work and why you can use some on bred cows and others on open cows. This is a must read for anyone that owns cattle, period. We chose the highest immune response we can because our cattle go to shows and leave our property, we can't afford for them to become ill and bring it back to the herd.
This is most likely the most informative website for all things cattle I've found to date. It can help beginners all the way through the "Master Cattlemen" gain knowledge and continue to learn the latest research proven methods to keep any owner on the cutting edge in this industry.
Here is our guideline for an entire year's worth of cattle vaccinations and worming, etc. We use the OSU (Oklahoma State University) planner along with their other helpful handouts. This helps us know what is appropriate for our area and when it should be done to the cattle. Finding your local information can best be done through a friendly trip to your county extension agent. It's their job to help give you the best information backed by experience and research.
I've been helping new cattle owners get setup lately and some experienced mini owners now moving into the registered world. A common question is what do you do to keep your cattle in top shape, the answer really is not much as good cattle are just GOOD. I will share with you the things we do use. The first being a TOP QUALITY mineral that is loose and allows the cattle to eat what they need when they need it. We use Redmond minerals, #10 fine or #4 medium and the conditioner. Follow the link to search for a dealer near you but call ahead to see if they have it in stock as my dealer always has to order it for me. Always follow your vet and state vet school recommendations as they change from region to region. A quality mineral program will help fill in any nutritional gaps that your pasture, hay or feed leave behind.
Guard animals, out of all the options (dogs/donkeys/llamas) we picked llamas for the cattle. Llamas are gentle on the fences/pasture/cattle and they don't roam off and get into trouble on other ranches around us. The great part is that once a year you get to carve off all that fiber and see how awkward they really look! Here is what happened today at the TX ranch, shearing slide show.
Inbreeding coefficients (IC) if you breed any kind of registered animal you should know what these are and what they can indicate. Here is an amazing tutorial from the American Hereford Association. We strive to keep our IC %'s as low as possible with injections of fresh bloodlines and rotating the use of outside bulls if needed. There are herds that will have higher IC numbers than others due to the breeding practices called linebreeding. You might also like reading up on popular sire syndrome and Founder effect. Trends come and trends go but quality cattle should be your goal over time. Keeping your IC %'s as low as possible will keep our breed healthy for the long haul.
How to take a DNA sample for the AHA. We will be making our own video, our method is much simpler and of all the methods we prefer to pull hairs, blood is messy and the test should be run before you've invested all the money in collecting semen. FYI, you can't sell semen on a bull that does not have a DNA panel already on file with the AHA and get registered calves. Again, do your homework on the bull you are buying semen out of first. You are looking for the AI permit on file with the AHA, ask for proof.
Things I've learned while setting up the Ardmore, OK ranch, facebooking and website design could kill even a boring person. I'm now the lady with the minis and I wear that as a badge of honor even here shoulder deep in cow-calf country.