Including myself, I have a crew of four that cares for our cattle at the feed yard. My foreman is in charge of our feeding program as well as being an awesome resource for just about anything else that goes on at the feed yard. In addition to him, I have a cowboy who is in charge of daily cattle health and also another hired man (Jared) who fixes equipment, helps to feed cattle, is in charge of home pen cleaning as well as filling in wherever necessary in terms of cattle care and chores.
Throughout my professional life, one of my greatest blessings has been the dedication of my crew. Day in and day out they give of themselves in order to offer high quality animal care. Their loyalty and hard work is nothing short of amazing, and I am immensely proud of all of them.
Two weeks out of every year, my cowboy goes on vacation. When he is gone, I try to fill in Checking Cattle. Checking Cattle is another term for Riding Pens,
and it consists of looking individually at every animal in the feed yard to make sure that they have optimal health. I view this job as absolutely critical as I care for cattle and raise beef.
Studly is my partner when I am Checking Cattle as I think that I can do a better job evaluating the health of my animals on the back of a horse. This likely stems from the fact that I am height challenged, so being on top of a horse gives me a better view point from which to see my animals.
We do not have a large number of animals get sick at the feed yard, but it is important to me that I offer the appropriate care when one of them becomes compromised by illness. When I am checking cattle, I look for any type of bovine behavior that does not appear normal. Because I look at my animals everyday, I have a good mental picture of what normal looks like. When I notice something abnormal, then I need to more closely assess the animal.
If I determine that an animal needs individual sick treatment, I take him out of the home pen and down to our main corral area. There, I can place him in our squeeze chute which immobilizes the animal so that I can get a temperature reading and give a shot of antibiotics if I believe it is necessary.
I work with my veterinarian to create animal health protocols which include a plan of what to do when an animal gets sick. The symptoms displayed by the animal determine the treatment that he is given.
After treatment, the animal is then either placed in one of our hospital pens or taken back to the home pen. The caregiver makes a judgement call depending on the health of the animal which location is most beneficial. If the animal spends some time in the hospital pen recovering, then he will be placed back in the home pen after he has once again attained optimal health.
Our daily check of cattle health is one of the most important things that we do at the feed yard. I truly enjoy the two weeks out of the year when it is my primary responsibility. I am also very thankful to Jared for his assistance with this chore!