Whew! My 4th annual preg check blog– where has the time gone?! I’m sure I say that every year, but I mean FOR REAL! Time is so precious!
Preg checking (aka checking whether a cow is open *no calf* or bred *going to calve*) is a once a year event for us. Our vets from Veterinary Agri-Health Services come and do our preg checking for us. Usually we do our check in January or February, but the weather has been warm so we bumped it up to December! Why not right? I start to expect calves at the end of March and calve through to the beginning of May, with some late calves coming as late as the beginning of June (and by that time, I am sufficiently *over* calving). Cows that are preg tested “bred” stick around and calve out next spring!
This year Cody came out to do our preg checking. (You may know him as Cody Creelman, Cow Vet!) He vlogs his adventures as a cow vet, agvocating and inspiration for vet students. Cody currently has a 24k following on his instagram account, 53k on his Facebook and regularly uploads a vlog to Youtube! We love having Cody out because of his great stories and advice. He is a great friend of mine and has helped me out in a pinch many times!! I have been able to send him photos of eye injuries, text him for a prescription for pneumonia in a feeder calf, And one time I found one of my orphan calves fallen in the ice (and he listened to me fretting about it, and reassured me she would be fine). The team at VAHS in Airdrie has excellent compassionate staff, from the vets, techs and receptionists. They have a great little store (aka the treasure chest) at the practice where I pick up our vaccines, needles, and colostrum replacement (and a lot more!). It’s really gamblers choice to see which vet is available for your appointment and we have never been disappointed: we love all the staff at VAHS!
This Fall we bought and installed our new Arrow Quip Q Catch 86 Series squeeze chute. I begged (hounded? pleaded?) Dad to buy a new squeeze, because our old one was functional (and probably older than I am) but not safe for me doctoring on my own. I pitched a deal with him, that if we bought a new squeeze, we could bring the old one to our pastures up north so we would have a squeeze for doctoring cattle up there. It was a hard sell but eventually we found a great squeeze that suited our needs perfectly. It is the “worlds quietest manual chute”. Pretty much everything on this chute is moveable, adjustable and safe. I prefer to handle and doctor my cattle on my own when it makes sense, and I needed something that I could give subcutaneous shots with (without a fear of breaking my arm). My favourite feature of the new chute would be the head holder on the head gate (I call it a cradle), it keeps their heads still so I can doctor, examine, administer shots or update a tag with ease. I also love that you can close the head gate from the back of the unit, and the sliding back panel that is probably 3x faster than our old squeeze.
A baby on the scanner!
The head cradle in its resting position. We only use it when absolutely needed! It’s so nice to have!! I have to bring calves or cows in all the time by myself to doctor, and with our old squeeze, I had to put hands through narrow bars to administer subcutaneous or intramuscular shots. And considering that the animal could shoot forward or backward, my arm was at risk of getting banged up and broken. The cradle keeps their head nice and still.
Ivomec pour on for parasite control.
Dad working the headgate. You can see the sliding back panel (green, closed) behind the cow.
We decided to do vitamin injections this year to make sure our bases were covered! We weren’t able to get the mineral in the formula that we wanted from the manufacturer, so we are feeding pasture mineral and supplementing with a vitamin injection. Our annual preg check is something I photograph and blog every year. I didn’t mean to start this tradition, but here I am!! At the beginning, it started as a way to give people a behind the scenes look at the “how” and “why” of beef cattle. My own little snippet of agricultural advocacy on the internet. It’s evolved into a benchmark of how I’ve grown as a photographer over the years and every year I pick a topic to expand on. Our philosophy with our cattle is low stress is best, our girls don’t get brought in for shots or processing very often, so they can keep doing what they are meant to do (graze and range!). By circumstance, my life is very cyclical in all facets!! Whether its my horses, photography or farming there is always something every year that I look forward to — and in a way, I think it makes time fly by!! With our horses, we start conditioning and training our show string at the end of April, with my photography my summers zoom by with weddings, and as a farmer my life is super seasonal. Winter feeding, calving, putting crop in, shipping pairs, spraying, cutting hay, baling.. There’s always a rhythm and tempo, which makes time go by so fast that I feel like a dog with it’s head out the truck window with my lips and ears flapping all over the place!
The head holder in action. It is so much safer for the cattle — they aren’t thrashing their head around, and keeps us out of danger, so we can do our job more humane and efficient.
Cody has his ultrasound wand wired into his glasses so he can view the live feed as he ultrasounds.
Sure you have a cow vet, but does your cowvet do #bridesmaidspose with you?
You can buy this Palpation Nation sweatshirt in Cody’s online store here!
Do you have a memory or story involving cows? I’d love to hear it! Drop it in the comments below!