Using ultrasound, we pregnancy checked the heifers last week at the Dickinson Research Extension Center ranch. The real excitement was the lack of excitement. The heifers walked into the evaluation box, stood quietly and walked out when the test was done. Kudos to management because cattle do not need to be wild and ornery.
Cattle are cattle, and one needs to remember the living beast in front and behind you in a cattle chute is five to 10 times your weight. Generally, a bolt is all that separates you from being sandwiched in between.
While standing in a chute and working, one must remember that good organization, equipment and procedures minimize the risk. However, the risk of injury always exists. During encounters among humans and cattle, the odds of a human winning against wild or ornery cattle that dislike humans are slim to none.
There is no joy in working wild cattle. Historically, heifers are more nerve-racking because they are nervous and fidgety during their first trip through the chute. Those heifers that dislike humans have not yet been culled.
Those wild heifers exist in small numbers, but it only takes one to make a good day tragic. The acceptance of ill-mannered cattle always should be avoided.
When cattle ran on the wild range, those cattle with great instincts and defensive behaviors were in demand. Today, those cattle are better off in a feedlot.
A cow intent on settling a score with a producer at any time may make a good story, but writing or reading an obituary is no fun. Wild, defensive cattle are not welcome.
Memories are always nice, particularly when one is alive to remember them.
In all the cattle that I have worked through the years, many days stand out as great ones. Cattle behavior is a reflection of how they have been handled. Arriving on location and being greeted by a pen of excited, nervous-eyed, heads-up heifers, I knew the day was not going to be good.
For those who have palpated cows, the feel becomes routine, warm, uneventful and notably relaxed. That day, the feel was not there.
Instead, the reproductive tracts were tight, rigid and tense. Arterial blood pressure caused arteries to contract profusely against my sleeved arm. I did what I was supposed to do and survived. I don’t think I will do that again.
I also remember the time a cow decided to leave the chute regardless of the consequences. Generally, cows calm down when the squeeze arm is applied. This cow wouldn’t under any circumstances. Dutiful operators were not going to let her out until she was vaccinated and weighed. She won, we lost.