Last week was that time of year when we bring the cattle in to get a good look at them and process the year’s calves. The word “marking” comes from the practise of ear marking, where a notch is cut out the animal’s ear in a shape registered to the owner of the stock. We don’t do this to our calves, but we are required to put identification tags in their ears. We also castrate the bull calves at this time.
Including the yearlings, there’s currently about 200 cattle in the mob, so it’s a fair sized job to get through everyone. We had had quite the education the week before, when a neighbour of ours asked for help doing the same job with his cattle. He had organised a whole group of people to help, (we calculated about 300 years of cattle handling experience) so we mostly sat and watched. Between the flapping, stick waving, yelling, cursing and hitting the cattle; they managed to create a lot of dust, stressed cattle and broken yards. It was a good thing we weren’t really required, as it looked like a great place to get hurt. In the end, it took 7 people 6 hours and a whole lot of sweat to get the job done.
The next week, we borrowed a friend for the day (one who understands how we like to do things) and slowly walked the cattle into the yards. During the whole job, noone raised their voice, hit an animal, flapped their hands around – in fact there’s very little to report, it was a pretty uninteresting job – and we got it done in less than three hours.
Here’s a picture of a pen full of calves.