Saturday, January 7, 2012


There was a lame three-year-old out in the heifer field, and I saddled the buckskin mare to get her in.  You could see that a front foot was swollen, and I wanted to look for the source of the swelling.

The heifer didn’t give us much of a fight – we only had to spin around a couple of times to keep her headed the right direction.  It wasn’t long before we had her in the corral.  I had the gates set to run her on into the squeeze-chute.

That last six feet into the squeeze can be a bugger.  You must have the headgate open and be ready to catch her, but that puts you in a position where the cow won’t come forward.  If you move back to push her up, you can’t get to the headgate in time to catch her.  And that is another job that helps pay for Max’s dog food.

At my direction, Max will go down the side of the alley and reach through to get a bite of ribs. With that encouragement from the side, it isn’t long before that cow is ready to steam right on past me to get to the hole at the end of the chute.  Usually I am quick enough to slam it just ahead of her shoulders, and the cow is caught.

A side panel comes off to get to the feet, and I tied up the lame one to scrape all around with a hoof knife, looking for an abscess or puncture.  Nothing was apparent, but like any good doctor I administered a round of antibiotics.

Running that cow in for a pill twice a day gets old pretty fast, so I gave her some long-acting antibiotics that are good for a couple of days.  One was a liquid administered just under the skin with a big hypodermic gun.  The other was a handful of thumb-sized boluses down the throat with a “balling” gun.

When a cow is near home as this one was, it’s sure a lot easier to run her in a chute to doctor.  Further from home requires a horse or two.  I’ve treated lots of calves by roping, but cows and bulls are much harder for one man to handle.  The preferred method is for one man to “head” the critter with a loop around the neck, and the second man to “heel” with a loop around both hind feet.  With an animal stretched out between two horses, it can be doctored and turned back out, saving a long trip back to the corral.

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