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Working Cattle on the Lucky Seven Ranch
By Shannon Jackson
1 Well, hello, everyone. Welcome to the Lucky Seven Ranch. I'm glad you could come to visit our family operation here in north-central Idaho. My husband, Mike, is a third generation rancher on this property. His grandfather came to Idaho from Nebraska during the Great Depression. My name is Shannon, and I'll be showing you around.
2 We have around a hundred head of cattle on our ranch. We help Mike's dad with his operation, too. Mike's dad has about 150 head of cattle. We raise our cattle for market beef. That means that someone will eventually eat them. You can find Blonde'd Aquitaine (BLON-DEE DEE-AQUI-TANE) and Limousin (LIM-O-ZIN) cattle (those are French breeds), Simmental, and Angus in the herds. Most of our cattle are crossbreeds of these, which means they have some Angus mixed with some Limousin, or some Blonde d'Aquitaine mixed with Simmental. We also have some Limousin purebreds.
3 Let's go to the corral. This is all made with metal pipe that Mike welded together. The gates help us to "cut-out," or separate, the cattle when we work on them. Usually we'll run the whole herd in, and then we separate the calves from the cows. Some ranchers use horses to do this, but we just use people (and gates). We work all the cows, and then we run the calves through. My job is to run each one up the chute so Mike and his dad can vaccinate, brand, or dehorn. When I say "work the cows," that's what I'm referring to.
4 The first week in May is when we brand and tattoo the calves, replace any missing ear-tags, vaccinate, put magnets in the heifers, and apply pour-on for fly and lice control. The branding is done in the calf chute. The cows go into a bigger chute. These are metal cage-like contraptions which hold them still. There are metal bars which swing down so you can do what needs to be done. All cattle have to have a brand in order to sell them. Our cattle all have a brand that looks like a horseshoe with a seven inside. We also tattoo them, each with a different number, so that if they lose their ear-tag, we can still identify the individual animal. The tattoo is put inside their ear. The ear-tag helps us match up the cows and calves. Each pair will have the mother's identification number (or name) on it.
5 I bet you're wondering why we'd put magnets in the heifers (the cows that haven't yet had a baby). The magnet is a long narrow magnet, about the size of my pinky. We put it down their throat, so they swallow it. This magnet will trap any steel or metal they might swallow. By doing this it protects them from having steel in their intestines when they are older. Sometimes there might be a staple from the barbed wire fence, or some other bit of metal in the pasture or even in the feed bunk. The magnet stays in the stomach of the cow forever, collecting pieces of metal.
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