Happy Thanksgiving!

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My mom gave me this Thanksgiving decoration several years ago. I laughed when I saw it and it still makes me smile. As beef producers, we sure want to promote the industry in any way we can. We believe in it and value the longevity of agriculture.

Yet, we also like poultry. And pork. And even fish–although not on Thanksgiving.

I imagine the first Thanksgiving dinner included fresh caught fish, but our table will be filled with turkey and ham, veggies, sides, and dessert. We have the joy of gathering with friends tomorrow, so our table will be full.

We are thankful for so many things this year: improving health, joy, family, friends, food, etc. I’m thankful for my neighbors, the mountains, the grass. I appreciate what others do for me and I love how my life story connects to others. And while yes, I’m thankful for our beef, I’m also thankful for variety. Beef is incredible, but it tastes best when varied. I don’t just mean  variety in how beef is cooked; I mean variety in what we eat. Other meats are fantastic too.

Perhaps this year, in light of changing circumstances, I am thankful for variety. I’m grateful we don’t all have the same ideas or opinions. How boring that would be! Rather the beauty, the full flavor, and the greatest peak come from appreciating other things: be it other foods, other people, or other ideas. Our beef tastes amazing because we are always listening, always learning, and striving for quality of life and production. Likewise, if I only associated with those who were like me, it wouldn’t grow me or stretch me to new places and better thinking.

Happy trails and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Nose Clips, Part 2

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It’s been two days since we removed the nose clips from the calves. Our pastures are quiet.

I wasn’t sure that just putting clips in would truly complete the weaning process. I’m quite sensitive actually, so I was more concerned about whether the clips were hurting the calves in any way. I watched them, but none of them seemed bothered by them at all. Behavior was calm during the ten days they were kept in place.

When we removed the clips, we separated the calves from their mothers. The momma cows lingered near the gate for a short time, but the only mother that balled was the mom of the calf whose clip fell out.

This was the easiest weaning we’ve had.

We used these clips on a small group of cattle. In this group of twenty pairs, we had one loose its clip early on and still ball. Another one lost its clip prior to us removing them, but I’m assuming it lost it after several days because this calf doesn’t seem to be vocal about weaning like the other pair.

Overall, ten percent of our group lost their clips early. The rest of the group remained calm and content. They went out to pasture like nothing had ever happened.

While this method worked well for us, we did it with a small group. I believe the biggest downfall would be the labor involved in placing clips in a large group of calves.

As with other things, it seems it is best to evaluate your needs with your cattle and choose what works best for you. Happy Trails!

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A few calves (plus steers in the background) that came up for water and mineral this morning.

Nose Clips

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Some calves with nose clips ready to head back out to pasture.

We are trying something different this year.

Usually weaning time comes around and we separate the mommas and the calves. We listen to them ball for each other. It always makes me so sad. I know, I’m a sap. Billy (my hubby) reminds me it’d be much worse if they were never separated. Both animals would suffer like an adult child that never leaves home.

About ten days ago, we brought the cattle in and put these nose clips in the calves. This way the calves stay with their mothers, but are unable to nurse any longer. Studies show reduced stress in weaning. Then you separate them after they are no longer nursing. We thought we’d try it and see if it affected their weaning weight and/or rate of gain.

They certainly didn’t appear to be distraught with the clips. We didn’t notice any changes in behavior. The mother cows were glad to see their calves–there hasn’t been the stress on the mothers either.

Tomorrow we take the clips out and we’ll see how it worked. Nothings like trying new things!

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Here’s a close up of a nose clip. We brought the calves through the chute, vaccinated, and placed the clips in their nostrils.