Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Number branding heifers

Last week we number branded our coming first calf heifers.  I got started doing this in about 1982.  I was having trouble identifying cows that lost their ear tags.  In needed to know their number for record keeping.  Then I had to rope or get them in a head-catch to read the tattoo number in their ear.  Once I started number branding I could always read the hip brand number.

Here is some of the heifers awaiting their turn in the chute and being branded.  I have a bunch of black heifers.  We had bought some cows a couple of years ago and they had some black calves.  I kept them as I needed more numbers and this is a way to do it.

 Here is a heifer in the chute and ready for her turn at a number brand.

As you can see the irons are hot.  They brand much easier when the irons are hot.  We read the tattoo and see that is the same one as the ear tag.  Then brand the same number as the ear tattoo.

As you can see the smoke gets thick.  When the wind doesn't blow much the smoke hangs.  We have four numbers to put on each heifer.  The first number is the year they were born.    They were born in 2011, so the first digit is a one.  In 1981 the numbers were like 100's then in 1991 were had to use 1000's and 1100's.  Then in 2001 we used the 1200's so now we have worked up to the 1300's

Here is a good brand of 1361.

Then the snow storm was predicted.  The weatherman was predicting 4-6 inches of snow and 45 MPH wind and falling temperatures.  So when a snow storm is predicted we get the sheep in the lot close so that they don't drift into a fence corner and cover over in a blizzard.  Sheep have their heavy coats of wool and just lay down and let the wind blow.  They all bed down in a close group and if the blizzard is bad enough they let themselves cover over with snow.  We bring them in close to the barn for shelter.

It was really nice that evening and the sheep didn't want to come in.  We didn't have much snow as it had been like 50 degrees that day.

We didn't get much snow just wind and colder temperatures.  Here I am feeding the sheep in the lower lot.  I fed them about three bales of hay for the day.  Tammy opened the gate so the sheep could go and eat.

They spent the day in the lot and ate hay.  The next morning we let them back into the pasture.  I started feeding the cows in this cold weather.  Their grazing has about run out, so giving them some hay  was a good idea.  Right now they are content with about a half a feed of hay every day and they go out and graze the rest of the day.  The other morning the cows weren't even coming for their cake.  So I said they get no more.  The rest of the cake will be fed as they get closer to calving.  With the high price of cake there is no use to feed it if they don't want it.

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