Friday, February 5, 2010

Vet day

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The vet came out to the ranch today to vaccinate the heifer crop from last year for brucellosis aka Bang's disease which in a very abbreviated nutshell can cause abortions in cattle. From what I have read, the disease is not widespread in the US and is mostly found in deer, elk and bison populations in and around Yellowstone (I even wrote a paper on this in college). Nevertheless, heifers kept for breeding purposes are vaccinated before one year of age so that was the task today.

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First we separated the heifers away from the steers then ran them through the chute one by one. The vet administers the vaccine, puts a tattoo in the ear then attaches a metal clip with an identification number. Assuming the clip stays on, the nine digit number can be used to track cattle should the need arise. With the code 92VMA2598, 92 indicates the state of Oregon, VMA is the code assigned to our veterinarian and 2598 is the number that signifies the particular cow or heifer (in this case, Butterfly).

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While we have them going through the chute, we take the time to put in ear tags for our own identification purposes. It is pretty easy to tell black/white faced cows apart from a distance but black cow standing next to black cow standing next to black cow is difficult. Not only is it easier to make sure we are all talking about the same cow, but we can also track who had nice calves, who needed help with delivery or who is always on the wrong side of the fence.

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Overall it went pretty quick even though the gals did not like being poked and prodded. I just told them to behave; that in some cultures, getting piercings and tattoos is a pretty sweet rite of passage.

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