This past week we weaned calves at our ranch, this is a rather big event in the life of a rancher. It also goes a long way to show just how much we care about our animals, so I thought I would share this past week with you.
Actually this story goes back to this spring. Before we moved the calvess to summer pasture we gave them a round of vaccinations. These vaccinations cover common diseases and they are much like the very vaccinations we give our children. Then this fall, a couple of weeks before we weaned the calves, we gave them boosters of the same vaccines. Why a couple of weeks before we weaned the calves? The calves get natural immunity from their mother’s milk and it takes a couple of weeks for the immunity from the vaccine to kick in.
The week we wean calves is also very important, it is very important that we have time to watch the calves very closely. Each morning and night we feed the calves and we take extra time to walk through them. We watch for small things like a calf with droopy ears, or is breathing hard or one that is off by itself. Those are early signs of sickness and when we notice them we treat the calves with the most effective antibiotic available to us. You see the sooner we catch it, the easier it is to treat and we use less medicine. In the rare case that the first round of treatments doesn’t work we go to something stronger, but that is very rare.
These days we hear about antibiotic free and natural, while I don’t have anything against producers who take that path it is not for our operation. You see I believe I can balance the health of my family and the health of my cow herd. I want to make sure I do everything I can to insure the health of my herd and when my cattle are sick I will do everything to make them better. That begins with making sure they get as much protection as I can give them before they get sick, then I need to catch the illness at the earliest possible moment and finally I need to give the calf the most effective medicine at the smallest dose possible.
So as we go through this very important week on our ranch, I hope for healthy calves. I will keep a vigilant watch and I will care for the calves that need my attention. If I have to treat a calf I have no problem with feeding the meat from that calf to my family because I know I have followed the prescribed withdrawal period and there will be no trace of that medicine in the meat. As much as I care for my cattle, my family and their health is priority number one