January 20, 2009

Experienced Stockman at Work

14-experienced stockman

Weaners through the yards

We’re getting more experienced now, managing the stock – or at least we thought we were. Today was a simple job, not too many needing attention.

In the morning cool we hopped on our bikes and mustered 17 of our weaners into the yards. I herded them into the forcing yard. Its supposed to help you force them single file down the race. The stock don’t like the yards much. Things happen to them in there, unpleasant things, like – castration, branding, de-horning and ear tag piercing. You can imagine their reluctance.

“Get up there!” I yell, using my deepest, sternest voice, waving my arms threateningly. It works mostly but sometimes Chris has to help. (It annoys me that his masculinity seems to incite a better response!)

Inoculation (needle in the neck)

We had the first young bull set, ready to go – his head locked in the bailer. He didn’t like that very much. Chris fumbled with the needle, priming the syringe, making sure all the air was out before injecting it. Something wasn’t right and he seemed to be squirting the medicine onto the grass, I was worried we would run out. Poor young bull number 801 was snorting and flaring his nostrils impatiently. We did manage to inject something into his neck. I tried patting him on the head to calm him down but it didn’t have the desired effect.

We managed to fix the problem eventually but with barely enough serum to do the lot.

Stockman’s Tip No 1:     Prime needle before bull is in crush!

Weight Check

The fatter the weaners, the more money we make. We had the scales plugged in and ready to go, taking every opportunity to monitor their weight gain. The only problem was the battery went flat after two beasts!

A few of Chris’s choice superlatives, a quick trip to the shed, a wobbly trip back lugging an enormous tractor battery, a few more superlatives and we were on our way again.

Stockman’s Tip No. 2:    Remember, re-charge scales after use!

Castration

We’ve used the rubber band method of castration before but not recently. We had the first bull in the crush. It was my job to hold the tail in place. You have to bend it back abnormally – the opposite direction to which it wants to go. Holding it in place like that numbs their rear end – a bit like an anesthetic. It numbs your biceps too – it takes a bit of strength to hold still a 250+ kg beast. It wouldn’t have been so bad, if Chris hadn’t forgotten how to apply the band! I felt like my arms were going to fall off waiting for the deed to be done. Fortunately the bull was quite enjoying his testies being fondled. He waited patiently, not realising his balls would fall off in a few weeks. Poor thing!

My arms giving way, we abandoned the job. We had to go inside and re-watch the training DVD that came with the apparatus!

Stockman’s Tip No. 3:    Find scrotum-like object and practice, practice, practice!

Such experienced stockmen we are! It was after lunch, the hot sun draining our energy, before we finished our simple task. Sigh. Next time we will do better…

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