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bearden-ranch-dry-cow-pen.JPG Rebecca Bearden

Bulls will follow the dry-cow parade to the pen

You could wear out good horses and cowboys trying to get these guys to move. Or you could just use the dry cows.

Most of the time, they are on the receiving end of your contempt. The select few special cows that did not breed back for various reasons must be separated from the rest of the hard-working, mama cow herd because otherwise their feed consumption would outweigh their present worth.

Depending on the market, their disposition, and your personal opinion, they might get a free ride until next year. But if they even so much as look at you the wrong way, their days are most definitely numbered and will be departing the next sale day regardless of the stockyard location.

Even though these ladies are a pain to isolate and constantly regroup into their own dynamic mob (including a perpetual hazing process that can become expensive if too much time and money is spent rebuilding fences and gates), they do have value in certain situations. Namely, this energetic group of dry cows is ready to follow the feed wagon/ATV with a single jingle of a gate chain.

While their aggressive habits might be annoying when you are trying to enter and exit with hay (since that’s about all you can afford to feed them), their all-up-in-your-business attitude can come in handy when you need to pen the impossible, like the bachelor bulls who have been wintering peacefully in their man caves and must be coerced to leave their bull holes to go back to work.

You could wear out good horses and cowboys trying to get these guys to move. Or you could just use the dry cows. This pushy pack can convince even the most obstinate of bulls that following them and the feed to the barn is the best idea ever. This works well if you place the dry cows in the bachelor pad to begin with. It works even better if one of those happy dry cows happens to be in heat.

Granted, your bulls might stop once or twice along the path to the pen to attack an ant hill or two, but most of the time, they cannot resist the allure of a group of females chasing after grain, with one exception. If you didn’t think ahead to feed the neighboring bulls and their herds out of sight during this process, you’ve just ruined your perfect penning setup. Nothing kills more time or creates more dust than a testosterone-driven dominance display.

Assuming no male counterparts are around to distract them, your bulls will follow the dry cow parade to the pen and attempt to consume what feed remains. After they realize they cannot return to their former peaceful quarters and then admit to themselves that breeding cows is not the worst job in the world, they usually load into the trailer willingly (if you’ve chosen herd sires well enough) and put their sights on the business at hand.

As for the dry cows, they did you the favor of cleaning out the back of the ATV and mowing the entire trap while you were loading bulls. They then wait impatiently for you to reload more feed and proceed to hook each other while you retrieve everything they pulled off and out during the penning process (like shovels and entire spools of barbed wire). Like clockwork, they follow your unit enthusiastically back to their quarters, hoping that maybe tomorrow you will need to pen another bull, and they can do it all over again.

TAGS: Beef Farm Life
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