Settling In…

There is stress associated with relocating. A trip in a truck, a new address, a new schedule, and new caregivers are just a few of the reasons that cattle may have elevated stress levels during the transition from the ranch to the feed yard. Weather can also exacerbate this relocation stress depending on what Mother Nature sends our way.

It took me many years to accept that I was never going to be able to completely eliminate stress from my cattle’s lives — Instead, I needed to work on reducing that stress to a tolerable level, and then teaching my animals how to effectively deal with it.

The goal = Comfortable and resting calves.

The goal = Comfortable calves.

We have a very specific acclimation protocol to follow at the feed yard when we receive new cattle. I believe that this is one of the most important things that I can offer to my animals during this time of transition. It takes time and dedication to implement, but I view it as critical.

The end of an exercising session -- the calves are returning to the home pen for breakfast...

The end of an exercising session — this time of year, it is predawn — calves are returning to the home pen for breakfast…

The main components of this acclimation protocol are:

  • Daily exercising prior to morning feeding for the first 4-7 days: Calves are asked to leave the home pen and travel down the alleyway to the main corral. There they are asked to walk past the handler calmly and confidently. As soon as the morning feed is delivered to the home pen, the cattle are then asked to travel back down the alleyway to the home pen.
  • Careful feed delivery: We have special rations (casseroles) that we feed to our animals during the transition period – they are high in forage and protein and particularly formulated to meet the nutritional needs of the animals. The feed is delivered 2X per day using a consistent schedule.
  • Vaccinating and deworming: All newly arrived cattle are vaccinated and dewormed. Vaccination needs are determined using the prior health history of the cattle, and our veterinarian plays a big role in helping me provide an appropriate holistic preventative health program for the animals.
  • Individual animal health is checked multiple times throughout the day.

The core components of bovine mental and physical fitness are clean, fresh water and feed; and a comfortable home pen that provides both safety and ample room for the expression of normal play behavior.

The calves excited to see the feed truck for the afternoon feeding...

The calves excited to see the feed truck for the afternoon feeding…

The care that my crew and I offer is both professional in nature, and fueled by compassion. It is not only the right thing to do for the animals, but also an important component to responsibly raising beef for you to share with your family.

Denkecalf.jpg

The That A Way ranch cattle finish their seven day acclimation period today. During these first days at the feed yard, the cattle established a personal comfort level in the home pen as well as building healthy eating habits that will enable them to efficiently convert our farm’s resources into beef.

It is the little things that matter most when it comes to Settling In…

5 Comments

Filed under Beef Cattle Life Cycle: Ranch to Retail, General

5 responses to “Settling In…

  1. cowdoc

    Yup and it is the little things that matter most when it comes to animal care and welfare – nice post

  2. Cool view of your day and how the cows are helped to acclimate to their new home. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Good to hear from you again, Kim! I hope that you all are doing well. I bet that your fall colors are gorgeous by now…Glad that you enjoyed the post! I am never sure what people will find most interesting, but I love cattle psychology and acclimation so it is fun to write about. Taking pictures is always a bit of a challenge of the actual acclimation process b/c I can’t take pictures of myself and it is often dark outside when I exercise calves (depending on the time of year).

      Ashley Grace (and I) are anxiously awaiting our first egg — I think that it should be any day now 🙂

      Take care,
      Anne

      • Oh how fun… your first eggs. 🙂 It’s been so cold here the last couple of days our chicks have stopped laying and I have stored the eggs we have for the winter. I think we are going to get more chicks in the spring. I think we may have to get rid of some of the older girls, but I can’t bring myself to do that yet since I think they are still laying as far as we could tell before the cold hit.

        I do find your posts interesting and I enjoy reading about what you do, especially since I am attached to your part of the country 😉

        We are well. Hubby’s shoulder is healing from his injury, but I don’t know when he will go back to work. We are just busy as I am sure you are getting things ready for winter.

        Hope you are all well and enjoying fall. 🙂

        -Kim

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