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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

More Than Just Your Average Branding Day!

This Saturday we had our annual commercial branding day. This is a day where all our neighbours, family, and friends come out to help us brand, vaccinate, casturate, and dehorn all 300 of our commercial calves. This year we did not brand our purebreds due to the fact that they got way to big way to fast! Commercial calves are more important when it comes to branding them because they will be set out to pasture far away from home, and also sold on market. If you do not know the difference between commercial and purebred , purebred calves are meant for breeding purposes and will either be kept on the farm or sold for other breeding purposes, where as commercial calves will be sold on market for beef.

This years branding day went extremely well we had alot of people at it helping out, and a few others that have never seen a branding before. This year we had a group of Russian tourists visit that have never experienced a branding day before. They were here in Canada experiencing and looking at the cattle industry. They asked tons of questions and were really amazed at everything that we do to our calves on branding day. It was quite the unique thing.

We also had some friends from the city come out and experience a real branding day. I think branding is something that everyone should get to witness once in their lives. They were really interested in it! I also had out some of my friends who are from the country but have never actually tooken part in branding day. We sure changed that for them I taught them how to wresle calves, vaccinate, and we even got to go out for a nice horsey ride which is something they don't get to do very often because they don't have horses on their farm.

For those of you who have no idea how a branding day goes down well I will show you the best i can !

"Cows and Calves waiting to be Sorted"
The first thing we do on branding day is get up nice and early to chase all the cows and calves to the branding pen. This year we had two groups to get in, and sadly this did not go to well for me, it was a cold wetter day and my horse decided to act up therefore bucking me off! But thank goodness I was fine, and you can't have a branding day with out a little bit of a rodeo now! We got both groups successfully to the branding pens. Than the more difficult part comes into play... sorting. And if anyone knows my family sorting cows does not go down easy! There is definitely some hollering and swearing involved, but eventually we get it figured out! This is where we are lucky to have our good cow horses come into play! They are extremely helpful. In fact branding day is probably a day where we use our horses the most.

"Looking for a calf to rope"

The next part of the branding procedure would be roping the calves. Roping is a tougher skill than it looks. It takes alot of practise, good hand eye cordination, and most of all a good horse. We usually have three or four people on horses roping and bringing in calves, the more ropers we have the faster we can get the job done!

"Swinging for a calf"

" As you can see this roper even has a broken leg and is still doing a successful job dragging in a calf"

When you are roping a calf the most suitable way is to catch them by their two back ankles, this causing the least amount of stress on the calf as possible and preventing injury.

The next part to branding is wresling. Mostly big strong tough guys do this job, but us girls have proved them wrong over the years. I tend to get this job. Wresling is more technique than overall body mass or strength. The objective of wresling the calf is to hold them down and keep them stable while people are branding, vaccinating ect. It is a very important job.

"Me and my cousin holding down a calf"

"My brother and a family friend wresling"

"the commotion of branding day"

Now for some of the things that my farm do on branding day are vaccination to prevent calves from getting sick or a serious disease. Ivermectin an insect reppellent. We also put in CCIA ear tag notches which is a cattle identification system method. And there is also casturation to all the steer calves since they will be sold for feedlot. There is alot of different methods of doing this we just cut them out. There is a special way to do it and you must be skilled at it, to ensure no bleeding or infection. Dehorning is another chore that we must do since we do raise horned Herefords. Not all the calves have horns since a majority is Red Angus cross. Dehorning is burning the calves horn than snipping off the little start of growth that they have and burning it again to ensure it does not bleed. And last but not least we brand!

One of the best parts of branding day is when the work is over sitting down and enjoying a nice prairie oyster. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, yes we do eat the calves testicles. There is a family recipe that has been in the family for years, and my personal opinion on it is that they are delicous! Getting to visit family and friends on branding day is another enjoyable part.

I hope you have enjoyed my information on branding day and all the pictures that I had to share!

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