Raising and caring for livestock is tough both mentally and physically be it sheep, cattle or horses. The wide open areas of the Canadian wilderness enable many large ranches to operate with huge areas of land for the abundant animals that are raised in it. For example cattle ranching would involve an aptitude to learn about animal husbandry, livestock management, breeding cycles, waste management, fencing, hay production vaccines for disease prevention and branding. If you’re looking for a completely new experience handling herds of animals from dairy cows to wool production from sheep then livestock husbandry can offer a truly unique challenge to yourself.
Cattle Ranching – Branding and Vaccination
For handling cattle the branding is done in May, when all the calf are more than one month old, and just before the grazing time (opening 15 of May), where the cows are left free in the range, with the rancher checking them every once in a while. Each ranch has its own brand, which acts as property purpose and the brand is mandatory to let cows into the range. The calves are born between January and March, with cows giving birth one calf at a time.
While branding, the ranchers give two shots to the calves, one near the belly for vaccination and one in the ear with hormones inside. A calf with horns receive another special treatment, the horns are welded to ensure that they do not grow anymore.
Personal Experience – Leandra
The experience of branding calves was a completely new challenge for me and I found it very exciting. I remember having adrenaline rushes despite how nervous I was feeling when I was close to the calves for the branding. It is different when you see it in a movie or when you stand there in the middle of a herd with the cows mooing all around you. It felt a lot like a western movie with real cowboys, which I found fitted the moment perfectly. It was also a big family and neighbour event, which was nice to see. I found all the bellowing and mooing by the cattle to be emotionally difficult at times and seeing the people wrestling the calves that didn’t cooperate. Physically to hold onto the calves is not as easy as it looks. For example if you let the leg go it can be dangerous if they mange to kick at you. I saw the important reason for why they mark their livestock so that when they are sent into the mountains, everyone knows who they belong to.
Overall I was very happy to be there as it was a big event that was completely new to me and I liked to help and be a part of it and share the excitement with the others who were with me. However I still think that I prefer to work with horses.