Friday, June 15, 2012

Branding 2012

We have been busy working cattle since the crop got planted.  We have over 200 cows so have about that many calves to work.  We give various vaccinations and brand all of them.  The vaccinations are done for the same reason humans have them.  The branding is for ranch identification.  We have this brand registered with the State of North Dakota and any cattle with this brand in our registered location all belong to us.  Each calf was identified at birth with the ear tag. 

Most of the time when you see photos of branding you see lots of horses & cowboys.  Not at our place.  We use 4-wheeler and motorcycles to chase cows (as well as a pickup or Jeep or whatever else is handy!).  Our method requires fewer workers and no open fire.  We need electricity and the four of us.

I have a few photos to share how we brand & vaccinate.

The calves are sorted from the cows.  It is much easier to work with the calves with out the big cattle in the way.

Brett's job was to bring one calf at a time down the alley way.  Pandora (the dog) and Sammie (another dog) like to think they are helping him by running alongside!

Brett then pushed the calf into the "calf table".  This is a very helpful tool for us.  Christopher would catch the head in the headgate and gently snug the calf onto the table.  Then he & Mark would tip the table.

 Once the calf is laying down it is much easier to do the necessary work.  The calf is laying on a solid piece of steel so he/she is well supported.  The bars can be moved so they are out of the way to do any necessary work.

Mark & Christopher gave the shots.  We give shots in the neck area since there is the least damage done to any future cuts of meat.  By doing this our animals are BQA certified.  Some of the shots go just under the skin and others go into the muscle.

This is our branding iron.  We have an electric iron.  So the part that you see glowing red is the part that actually does the work.  Our brand is a 7 lazy Y.  Mark sets it in this bucket with a brick to keep from starting fires.  These photos show us branding inside of our big barn.  Some of the calves are branded out in the pasture where we set up a big pen to gather them and still use the calf table.  We then use a generator to provide electricity for this iron.

The above two photos show Mark doing the branding.  First the hair burns off (man does that stink) then the hide is "tanned" with the hot iron. 

From the time the animal gets into the "calf table" to the time it is released is about 2 minutes.

Here is our brand on one of the calves from this day's work.  Our 7 lazy Y on the left rib area of the calf.  This brand will "grow" as the animal grows.  After they get their vaccinations and brand they are released and return to Mom for comforting.

It is a hard day's work even for the dogs!  (This is Lori.)  We humans come in exhausted as well.  It is better now that we do the calves in smaller groups as they go to or are at each of their summer pastures. 

If the cattle are not at the proper pasture we haul them out in our stock trailer.  We make sure every cow in the trailer has her calf in there with her.  If they are not paired up, we could have a cow running all over the countryside looking for her calf.  It is worse then the calf is running around as they are much more difficult to catch!  Our bulls have also been turned out to the pastures so we should start getting new calves around the 20th of March, 2013.

Do you have any questions?  I will do my best to help answer them.


  1. Great post! Your pictures and words do a wonderful job of explaining the process and what a good job your family does to care for their cattle. Hope a relaxing evening is in your future!


  2. Thank you Ann. I think it is important to educate the general public about the care we have for our animals. As you know, if we don't take care of them, they won't produce for us.

  3. Hubby and I have helped with gathering, vaccines, castrating and branding. I gotta tell ya', your calf table looks a whole lot easier than ropin', wrasslin', tyin' and sitting on them! LOL!!
    Great post, I love reading this kind of stuff! :)