Cattle round up days occur around here at the Big Sky Farmhouse, home of the Bitterroot Galloways Grassfed Beef Cattle Co. a couple times a year. They are always big events that begin early in the morning and end later in the evening. This year, we waited a bit longer to move our herd of Galloway cows and calves by a couple weeks and ended up gathering up the family to jump in and help on Memorial Day as the kids were out of school.
Our herd of Galloway Grass Fed Beef Cattle are naturally very docile and usually very easy to corral with food. Momma cows get hungry when they are providing milk to baby calves…just like humans. So, give them some access to a new pasture area with long green grass after they have eaten all the green grass in their old pasture and easy peasy, the whole herd is moved before you know it…almost on their own. Funny random tip about cows…they, like some humans, almost ALWAYS think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, even if it’s the same grass or even if their own grass is actually better. If the hot wire is off for a period of time, they will frequently stick their heads through the fence to get at the grass on the other side.
The primary goal in our Galloway cattle round up is to keep everyone safe to include all humans and animals. We gather the cattle up, sort them, check their weight, analyze their overall look and health, replace any ear tags that have detached, and tattoo their ears to register the animals. They are sorted into different pens depending on which pasture they will be transported to via stock trailer and then we do the same thing with all the calves to ensure they all arrive with their momma cows at the same pasture. That would be a very bad thing if a mom was in one pasture in the Valley and the baby calf was in another. Bad. No Bueno.
So, critical to a successful mission in cattle moving in our family, is the record keeping of this event. If you don’t know where the mom cow is located through record keeping and notes and in what pasture, how can you place the calf appropriately? Not gonna happen. This seems pretty simple huh? It’s not. When there are ear tags that become detached through rubbing or catching on a tree, etc., identification can be challenging. Prior ear tattoos and knowledge of the individual animal is key under these circumstances for us. This is where job assignments and duties come in. After working in this environment for even an hour, you quickly realize how important it is to have a.) enough people to handle all the duties and b.) those duties are completed appropriately and completely. Don’t be leaving that gate slightly closed….you make sure it’s completely shut and locked……….EVERY time…. m-kay?
Sounds super easy doesn’t it? Welll, if you factor in the fact that it is difficult to hear the other humans over the loud mooing chorus surrounding you, frequent game change plans formulated on the fly to get that ONE animal in the next pen with the others because she is NOT going willingly, the excessive amount of poo being delivered up (did I mention that cattle poo when the are anxious and nervous? and their swinging tails frequently carry that poo up to a few feet away from them…so don’t be standing within close proximity with your mouth open?”) and the fact that cattle don’t always just do as you say when you say it…like toddlers, the task isn’t easy every step of the way. Rewarding, and hilarious in some instances…but not easy.
Personalities shine through in this kind of environment, let me tell you. Until you see someone in the heat of the day, poo on their face and clothes, throat sore from yelling important information over the moos, and just plain tired from moving 1000-1500 pound bovines from one pen to another and through a weighing chute they have no intention of walking through, you don’t really know their personalities. I have a certain up and coming cattleman in my family who is all of 5 feet tall, 11 years of age and full of love and excitement for these lovely Galloway cattle beauties. My nephew. Large and in charge is what I now call him when it comes to moving our Galloway herd. On one occasion I chided with him and told him I was gonna spank his butt if he kept barking orders at me like I was a private in boot camp. These are the things one encounters in the heat of battle. Cool kid that he is…he got it. Ratchet it down a bit there cowboy…we got all day at this.
Anyhoo, I now know that some former police experience will come in very handy here for the future Bitterroot Galloways Cattle Moving Adventures. Cattle patrol briefing will be held. We will go over the objectives, the description of the cattle pens and which pen goes to what pasture, the equipment necessary to be on hand, the job assignments and responsibilities, water location, and one of the most important aspects of the day will also be discussed…….what is for lunch!!! (My police friends know this is incredibly important. It’s called 482 at Las Vegas Metro and when you miss it due to a call for service…it’s no fun at all!)
So, hopefully you have an idea of what this critical cow incident is like here at Big Sky Farmhouse..home of the Bitterroot Galloways Grassfed Beef Cattle Co.
If you’d like to see more pictures of our cattle, cattle for sale, and grassfed beef, please join us and Like the Bitterroot Galloways Grassfed Beef Cattle Co. Facebook Page.
All the best!