Nebraska Prairie Girls Brands Cattle
There should be a Branding for Dummies book out there somewhere.
Tractor Dave and I recently purchased some young calves to start a small herd. Well, I guess I should back up a little and tell you we have always had cattle or calves. However, they were raised solely to supply meat for our family and now for our restaurant. We did not have to brand any of them because we were not keeping them for extended periods of time.
Now for our newest acquisition..... We decided to brand them because we would be keeping them on the farm in hopes of breeding them and increasing our herd size.
Branding, the good, the bad, the ugly......
First off, we have an electric branding iron. Which is okay....maybe not the best. (Most farm yards do not have power outlets out where the cattle need to be branded.) So.....We had to plug the iron in at the barn which meant we had to rope the calves and drag them to the barn. Without the use of a horse mind you. At least they were only a couple hundred pounds.
|Not actually our calf|
After we got them in the barn one at a time, it was time to put a rope around the back legs. Then flip them on their side. It was Tractor Dave's job to throw them down. Arielle, our 20 year old daughter was in charge of holding the back legs taught while Dave held them. My job was to give them their vaccines and then brand them. The vaccines were the easiest part, the branding on the other hand........
Branding is something I have never done. I have de-horned, castrated, done a c-section, put in stitches and staples, cleaned out abscesses, delivered babies, etc, etc. I have been to brandings but never ever hand a branding iron in my hand. But how hard can it be? Well let me tell you calves kick, step, run, jump, twist and turn, sometimes all at once. It doesn't matter if they are on their side on the ground or on all fours. And when you get close to them with the hot iron be electric or fire heated they do all they can to get away. The first calf we branded was of course the largest of the four. Nothing like working our way up in size, we had to start with the biggest calf. Once the calf was down on the ground and in position it was time to start branding. Of course the calf moved and so did the iron. So I reset the iron in the right position I thought and started branding again.
Well....... we will call this brand double vision.
The next calf that I branded ended up with the brand going at a downward angle. Wrong again. However, she left me with a brand of her own on my big toe. At least the bruise matches my nail polish. (FYI I did have shoes on instead of open toe sandals)
The third calf I branded had a perfect brand on it. However, do you think I could get a photograph of that one? Nope.
I think on the final calf I must have thought that I was a pro since the calf prior I had done such a good job. Well one should never assume. Everything went great until I pulled the hot iron of the calves side and realized...... I put the brand on upside down, yes I said, upside down. I mean who does that....Surly, someone out there has done that besides me, right? So then I tried to fix it.....There is no fixing it. No magic eraser, no white out, no black out, no back spaces or delete, no do overs. The nice thing is whether she is on all fours or on her back you can read the brand.
I have to disclose my husband has branded cattle and he probably would have done a much better job. However, he was the muscle of the operation, holding the calf down. I mean really how hard can it be, you put the hot iron on the hide of the calf until the brand on the hide is a nice golden color.
I should tell you that our Brand is Lazy W Diamond. Which means the W is laying on its side with a diamond shape underneath. I know that is is hard to tell that from my lovely branding job. At the end of the day you just have to laugh at yourself and chalk it up to a learning experience.
I have shared all the bad and ugly. Now I should share some of the good but...... I might have to get back to you on that.
Nebraska Prairie Girl