Putting the cattle out to pasture is probably one of my favourite times on the farm. To get the cows and calves ready for pasture we need to make sure they have all 4 of their identification tags in their ears–a radio-frequency CCIA tag, their personal numbered tag, a permanent tag with a number that is linked to their personal number in our computer system, and our number out on pasture. The calves do not get a permanent tag, it is only for cows after they have their first calf (then they are permanent in our herd). Next they get their booster vaccines. Finally they get a freeze brand of our farms’ brand. It is a lot of work to get them ready to go out, but when the cattle liner arrives in the morning the day of Take-In at community pasture, it’s a rewarding feeling!
When our cattle go out to summer pasture they are loaded on a cattle liner to transport them there. This is the safest and most efficient and economic mode of transportation to get them from point A to point B which is a total trip of 1 hour and 15 minutes. The cattle liner we use is owned by a custom hauler, all this company does is hauls livestock. When the liner comes to our house, we already have the cattle sorted by size–cows, calves, and if we have any heifers. One can think of a cattle liner as a big Transformer. There are ramps that slide, gates that open and shut, and walls that can be put up or taken down. The liner is loaded from the front to the back. The top is loaded lighter than the bottom. On this particular load, we had 25 cows and 25 calves. We sorted 12 cows and they went up top (green area on photo). Next we sorted 13 cows and they went in the bottom or the belly (purple area on photo). Because we didn’t have a full load for the liner, we didn’t use the nose (pink area on photo), and all 25 calves fit on the back (orange area on photo).
I follow the cattle liner out to the community pasture that our cattle go to. When we get there, the cattle are unloaded immediately (unless we have to wait for a chute which is usually just a few minutes). The calves are unloaded first, followed by the cattle in the bottom, and lastly the cattle up top. The cattle are then held in a pen so they can “mother up” with their calves. In early afternoon, the cowboys will move each group of cows to their appropriate herd, where they will happily graze until the fall when we pick them up again.