Sunday, May 12, 2013

Banding the Calf

Perhaps you remember that when I banded Gusto, I did not manage to get his testicles. So, he was still a bull just minus his scrotum. This caused a few problems. He was not easy to manage, not that calves are supposed to be "easy", but he really got more threatening as he got bigger. He also broke lots of fence. When he got to the point that I felt uncomfortable asking the children to give the cows water, we knew it was time to kill him.

We wanted to be sure Nick was actually a steer at the end of the banding process. After asking around, one of our neighbors agreed to assist in the process. His only stipulations were that one of us had to do the actual banding so that we would feel sure of ourselves with the next bull calf and that we get a collar on Nick.

This week the calves are just shy of two months old, so we called our neighbor and Nick is banded. It was delightfully easy. First, Nick and Nora are the friendliest calves we have dealt with, so it was not that hard to get a collar on him. Second, Nick is much smaller than Gusto was. As our neighbor put it, "Violet is sucking two calves," so all three of them are lacking in condition. Third, our pen situation makes separating the calves pretty straightforward.

So, at chore time, we pushed both calves into the barn, but we only let Nick into the calf stall. Then, Jason got hold of Nick's collar and backed him into a corner and against a wall. Our neighbor had prepped the tool. The bander is kind of like the tools they use to put rubber bands on lobster claws; it uses very small bands but stretches them quite wide. So, when you squeeze the handles, it's relatively easy to slip the calf's scrotum into the band. Once this was done, our neighbor showed me how to check that both testicles were in the band. Then he showed how you pull the tool down from the belly just a bit so that there is a little more flesh when everything is healed. He was showing me all of this through a shower of calf diarrhea, as Nick was so upset by all this he completely covered my arms and hands in manure.

We let Nick go, let Nora into the calf stall, and got ourselves cleaned up. In awhile, the scrotum and testicles will fall off, and we'll have a steer.

No comments:

Post a Comment