An Infrequent Night-time Chore…

I am mostly a “morning person”.  My body is trained to get up and go to work at 5:30 every morning because I feel that it is important to get breakfast delivered to our cattle shortly after dawn.

My animals are Creatures of Habit and I think that they are more efficient convertors of my natural resources if they are provided with a consistent feeding schedule that involves an early breakfast.  This is especially critical in the summer months when nightly temperatures are in the 60’s but daily temperatures top out in the 90’s.DSC05399

Because I go to work early every morning, I really do not like to work at night.  My body tends to yell at me when I run short of sleep, and it has been years since a nap has appeared on my radar screen.  Despite this, every once in a while I need to be at the feed yard to unload new cattle during the night hours.

A cattle semi-truck backing up to my unloading chute about 12:30am...

A cattle semi-truck backing up to my unloading chute about 12:30am…

This tends to happen most often during the summer months.  It is best to move cattle when it is cool outside so transportation at night (or early in the morning) is often times better for my animals during the warm months of the year.  I also like to place cattle during the summer that were born during the fall months of the prior year.  I call these animals fall calves, and they work really well for my marketing regime.

Nebraska does not have a large number of fall born calves due to Mother Nature’s shorter growing season, so I sometimes look to states south of me to find fall calves.  These animals tolerate the summer time temperatures in Nebraska really well, and they go to the packing plant before winter gets too cold.  The only down side is that they have a longer truck ride coming into the feed yard, and they tend to arrive in the small hours of the morning thereby wreaking havoc on my sleeping schedule.

The cattle coming off of my truck into the alleyway that leads to one of my corral pens...

The cattle coming off of my truck into the alleyway that leads to one of my corral pens…

When I receive cattle in the middle of the night, I unload them off of the semi-truck and place them in one of the corral pens that is adjacent to the unloading chute.  It is important after a long truck ride to provide newly received cattle with fresh long stemmed prairie hay, water and a comfortable place to lie down and rest.  Using our corral areas to do this enables the cattle to remain in a well-lit area of the feed yard so that they can easily see the fences and rest until the sun comes up.

This is long stem prairie hay that we put out for the cattle to munch on in the corral while we way for daylight...

This is long stem prairie hay that we put out for the cattle to munch on in the corral while we way for daylight…

One of the water tanks in our corrals that provides fresh water to the cattle as soon as they get off the truck.  You can see that the Nebraska moonlight kept me company as I unloaded the cattle!

One of the water tanks in our corrals that provides fresh water to the cattle as soon as they get off the truck. You can see the corral lights reflecting of off the water!

In the home pen checking out their new surroundings once the sun came up!

In the home pen checking out their new surroundings once the sun came up!

Once dawn appears, we place them in their new home pen where more fresh feed, water, and a comfortable living space awaits them.  After a short time of eating and drinking, the cattle look for a good place to lie down and take a nap.

A bite to eat and a nap is a good way to spend the day...

I watch this napping with envy as I do believe that they have an easier life than I do!

4 Comments

Filed under Foodie Work!, General

4 responses to “An Infrequent Night-time Chore…

  1. I love receiving new cattle! Each load is different and makes for a new challenge. Luckily in my times at the feedlots in Texas we had night-watchmen to unload the cattle for us, so the only time I had to work night was when they needed a night off or when we had to ship starters to the packing house at 3 a.m. I can do that hour much easier than staying up late.

    • I am with you, Ryan. I would prefer to get up early rather than staying up late at night… Glad to hear that you have good memories of when you worked at a feed yard. I too love to unload cattle, but vastly prefer that it be during daylight hours!

      I hope that you had a fun 4th of July holiday!
      Anne

  2. Reblogged this on ranch wife life and commented:
    Ann’s post about receiving cattle into her feed yard in the wee hours of the night is a good example of some provisions ranchers and feeders take to care for cattle when the temperatures rise. As a kid on Summer break, I always wanted to go along with my Dad when he hauled finished cattle from our feed yard to the processing plant in Wallula (near Tri-Cities). This meant loading the truck and being on the road east by around 4 a.m to deliver the load in the morning before the heat would hit. While Ann is taking measures to reduce stress for the fall calves coming into her yard to give them the best start there, the same principles related to humane treatment and stress reduction apply as the cattle are shipped for harvest.

    • Thanks so much for the Reblog! I am glad that you enjoyed the post and am so thankful that you shared it with your readers as well.

      That is also a great point about sending cattle to harvest—we also tailor our ship out times to the packing plant to ensure that cattle are not on the road during the high-heat hours of the day.

      All the best,
      Anne

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