Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Squeeze chutes for horned cattle

One challenge with raising Highlands, with their beautiful horns, is to get them in a traditional cattle chute.  We've heard that they can learn to turn their heads to go through them, but we've only tried it once with a hoof trimmer (and it was a big NO GO for her).  Problem number two is I just can't justify spending the money on a traditional squeeze chute with our small fold.

When we first started out, we used 'redneck' ways to squeeze them when we had to, with some rope and a couple of panels (or a good ol' lasso tied to something sturdy once or twice).  I kept eyeing the swinging style squeeze made for large horned cattle, but still couldn't bring myself to spend the money, even though they were much cheaper.  Luckily my husband is pretty handy with tools, which has saved us a lot over the years in building fences, barns, etc.  My list of projects just keeps growing... I know he wishes it wouldn't. 

Here's the swinging chute that he built for our cows.  It's bolted to a post at the edge of the barn and it works for our needs.  We use panels and a small gate to corral them through the end of the barn and right into it.  The cost for materials was probably $500-600, much more manageable price to swallow.  Of course we can't include a price for the time he spent on it or I might have been better off buying one... thanks Hubby!

Here's the squeeze shoot in action as one of last year's bull calves gets banded.  We use a board behind the smaller animals so they can't move around, but the squeeze is large enough for our bull too.

Waiting... it's so hard

Last Saturday was the estimated due date for our first calf of the season.  I try to keep a good record of when the bull is introduced back in with the ladies, and when he's paying lots of extra attention to each one.  Well, the weekend has come and gone, the cow has a nice large firm udder, but still we wait (impatiently).  Meanwhile all I can do is Google calf pictures, walk the pasture, pet the ladies and do daily udder inspections, and worry.
Here's a good website for what to expect while calving, LEA-White Farms.  They also have lots of other useful articles on other aspects of raising cattle.  Enjoy, and hopefully we will have new calf pictures to share soon.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Highland fabric

I'm a sucker for cute Highland things, and I'm a fabric-aholic.  Combine the two and I have no self control.  I found this quilting fabric today and had to buy a yard of it.  I'm not sure what I'll make with it yet, but that's never stopped me before while at the quilt store!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Farm store sale Tuesday

Yay, Wilco is having a big one day sale tomorrow.  I have a list for the hubby since I have to work.  I hope he can find the calf halters I want... at 25% off!

Picked up the vitamin shots from the vet tonight.  Now it's just a waiting game for our first calf of the season.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sunshine again... but for how long?

The sun is finally here this afternoon... hopefully to stay for awhile.  It's been a very soggy March for us in Western Oregon.  Standing water and a muddy mess!  We moved the girls back to the wintering pasture this last week to preserve the summer pasture ground momentarily, but we should start calving by the end of the month and I want to get them shuffled back soon to better pastures.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring chicks and other farm store temptations...

I made it out of the local farm store without buying any new chicks tonight.  It helps that my daughter wasn't with me (she really wants some fluffy feet chickens), and the fact that we already get more eggs from our chickens then we can possibly eat.  They are so cute though!

I stopped in to price the vitamins for the calves.  We give our newborns Bo-se and vitamin A & D shots soon after birth.  We usually get them from our vet, but I wanted to see if I could buy a whole bottle cheaper... they didn't carry any.  

I also need new calf halters, I found them, but I wasn't ready to drop a  twenty on one today so I'll do a little price checking online.  I like this brand for a calf halter.  We sent the last one we had home with the heifer we just sold.

My big splurge for the day was new chapstick.. I really like this brand, and it guarantees that no one in my family will steal it from me.  No it's not real chicken poop... just really good chapstick!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Naming cattle... live and learn

We bought our first Highlands back in 2010, two cow-calf pairs, and we had them rebred before bringing them home.  We were pretty new to owning cattle having, only had one other Longhorn cow-calf pair before getting our Highlands, so it's been a learning journey to say the least (and still is).

When we first started out we named our calves starting with the same letters for each year, but there was no rhyme or reason as to what letter we would use.  It soon became obvious why the naming convention followed by the American Highland Cattle Association  was a very good idea.  It makes it so much easier to keep track of how old everyone is, especially now as cattle have come and gone from our farm.  We were fortunate that the farm we acquired our first cows from started our membership to AHCA.  It's a good place to start when looking for reliable information.

This will be our 5th year of using the AHCA naming system.  This year's letter code is 'E' and we are starting to think of names for the new calves, soon to arrive.  Trying to avoid naming them after friends or family, especially if they are bound for beef... that would make for a very awkward conversation!  How about you?  How do you name your fold?  Do you name those destined for the dinner table?  Shhh, we do, but don't tell some of those eating those delicious burgers and steak.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Friendly cows and coat colors

This is Bridgette, our friendliest cow.  Most of our cattle are friendly, but she takes the cake (or cow patty).  I was trying to take a picture of the calf in the background when she photo bombed the picture.  If you walk into the pasture she thinks she needs your full attention.  She loves to be scratched.  She joined our fold when she was about 8 months old.  She will be 3 later this spring and is expecting her first calf.  

Bridgette is beautifully brindled and our bull also has some brindling, so I'm very excited to see what coloring the calf will have.  If it is brindled it won't show up until it's older.  The website Bairnsley Highlands has several articles on coat colors of highlands.  Here is their article on the basic coat colors, but they have lots of other interesting articles on their site worth checking out including in-depth coat color genetics and calf colors.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gestation calendar

A great gestation calculator and calendar from the American Highland Cattle Association's website.  I always double check those due dates as calving season draws near.

AHCA gestation calendar

A newborn Highland calf being licked clean by Mama

Dahlia's grooming

Dahlia, a 7 month old heifer, got a good brushing today. 
Making her nice and pretty for her new owners, who should come pick her up this next week.