Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Brought the cows home and number branded the heifers

The last post I did we were still plowing a trail to get to the pasture where the cows winter.  We brought them home here shortly after that.  There was a weather report of coming cold spell again so we just brought them home.  They were just settling in to their new surrounding when the cold spell hit.  They called it the Polar Vortex.  They always seem to come up with new names for these things.  We were colder in early December, but the wind really blew this time so the wind chills were quite sever.

When the weather had warmed up we got the herd in and sorted off the coming first calf heifers.  They will get better feed and it will help to tame them down some being close in the lot.  They will start calving around the 1st of March.

Then we number branded the heifers.

We use a hot iron to number brand the heifers.  Most of the heifers already have a number that is tattooed in the ear.  You have to catch them and restrain the head to read the number in the ear.  So it is much easier to read a brand on the hip.  Ear tags work for a year or two but either fall out or get caught on something and get torn out, so this works good.

Also the first number in the sequence is the last digit of the year.  this way we know what year the animal was born that way.  So when they get to be 10 or 12 years old we will know that they are getting old.  We keep a lot of our cows till they are 12 to 14 years old.

The sheep are no longer in the breeding season.  They are now in a time of being dry and just pregnant, so they do not need quite so much feed.  We have quit feeding them their grain cubes every day and just feed hay.

We use a bale processor that grinds the hay off of the bale and puts the hay in a nice windrow for the sheep and cattle to eat.   The grinding process knocks off any dirt or mold that may be on the hay and fluffs up the hay so even old coarse hay will look appealing.


  1. I want to tell you that I enjoy your blog. I am a SD farm girl, born and raised. It's always in my veins even though I my last year there was 1982. I miss it.

    I spent 6 years in Newell and fell in love with the rolling plains and ranches. I miss that too.

    I've lived in St. Paul, MN since 2007. There is lots to like here, including my work. But I sorely miss the space, the smell of livestock, the wind rippling the grass, the antelopes and turkeys, the open miles. So I read your blog and I can smell the sheep as my hands get soft and slick bundling up the wool. The baby lambs bleat, grab a snack, hindquarters in the air, tail jerking back and forth.

    Sigh. I'll check in, in another few days to see how everything is going. Thanks for writing this blog and posting the photos too.

  2. We live about 35 miles straight east of Newell on the gravel road that is called the Fairpoint road. We live six miles south of old Fairpoint.