In our Mountain Field, there are several cow, heifers and cow/calf pairs that we recently added to our herd. These cows are not at all familiar with corrals, alleyways and head gates and have been used to living life on the wild side. Since being integrated with our herd, most have begun to settle down. About a month ago, we managed to work them through the head chute, giving each of the ladies an ear tag, vaccine and pour-on worming.
In this new group are two cows and their heifer calves who are still nursing, a young orphaned heifer and an older heifer. Additionally, at least one of the mama’s is expecting a calf this spring. We had to catch these young girls to wean the two nursing ones and give the orphan more feed and care. Figuring out how a way to catch just the heifers and not their mama’s or the rest of our herd was a puzzle.
During a visit to our friend’s farm, we saw their creep gate setup that permits their calves free access to food while keeping the larger cows out. We fashioned a similar opening in the panel corral already set up in our Mountain field using MTO – Materials On Hand. For two days, the sweet grain we put in the trough would be licked clean in the morning but we never saw any calf go in. So the next evening, we hung the game camera to a panel and added more grain. The next morning, there were 210 photos on the camera – caught!
The two nursing heifers spent over an hour that night eating the grain, and then came back early in the morning to see if more had magically appeared. When they didn’t find more grain, they milled about and posed for some selfies, hahaha!
By the next day, these two girls ran into the corral after I added the grain, not caring at all that I was standing right there. We closed up the opening, backed our trailer up to the chute and moved these two into the adjacent field with Willow and six other calves.
In a day or two, these young heifers will settle down and become part of this new herd. Our remaining challenge is to catch the orphan heifer. She has had a rough life to date, no mama since too early an age and she has been the last cow in the herd pecking order. I left the corral creep gate setup in the field, and added a roll of hay along with the sweet field with hopes enticing her. Time will tell.