Archive for February, 2009
Livestock sorting paddles or cattle sorting paddles have a variety of uses. Yes, they are for sorting livestock but, they can also be used as a guide to help you when working with animals.
For example: I woke up Tuesday morning to discover that my beautiful goat herd of seven had found a way into my yard and to my dismay, my garden area. That was the one place I was hoping to keep them out of but, being the creatures of habit that they are, they found their way. Although it isn’t garden season here yet, was a good thing but, they found my first year strawberry crop and decided they liked them. I was not happy. So I hurried out the door and sent them back to the barn. Usually, only once has worked before and I went back to the house to have my morning coffee when I glanced out the window and they were there again. So, I went the second time. To the barn they went. I followed suit and went ahead and fed them their breakfast, thinking that would do the trick. Well, I was wrong. I had a couple of more incidents before I thought that they needed some guidance. I took my sorting paddle this time and I am not sure what they were thinking but, they didn’t wait for me. They headed back as soon as I rounded the corner with paddle in hand. Time passed and no sign of them until about two hours later. So with my paddle tightly gripped in my right hand and my fist clenched in my left, I headed for my strawberry patch and proceeded to give my lovely herd a loud tongue lashing at the same time using my paddle to guide them out of the strawberries and through the gate, under the fence and back into the barn. I sat the paddle by the hay manger and pulled a gate over to the barn to close the opening so they could not escape. In other words, I put them in jail. I picked up the paddle and they backed themselves into the corner, the length of the barn, away from me. I put the paddle out of their sight and they would come up to me. For some reason, the paddle intimidates them enough to keep away from it. I never once had to touch them with the paddle and it seemed to, at least, make an impression on them that this is something to stay away from. That is good.
I know the guys at the livestock barn use the paddles every day, herding, sorting and loading cattle but, as you can see, the cattle sorting paddles can be used for more than just cattle.
We all know that on a farm you must have tools to work with in order to get things done such as;
Building fence – wire, posts, post hole digger, pliers and etc.,
Repairs – hammer, nails, screws, lumber or wire, drills and etc.,
Machinery – wrenches, jacks, compressors, clamps, welders, sanders and
well, you get the picture. There will always be a need for tools and accessories on the farm because there is always work to be done. It does not matter if your farm is your only business or just part of your business, repairs happen on a daily basis. It never fails to find something that has to be worked on.
But, I want to tell you of some farm accessories that you may not think of. It happens to be you or your hired help. Maybe, it is your spouse or partner or maybe in my case; it is my partner Allen, the backbone of our farm, and then there is Jacob and Kalissa, my nephew and niece.
Jacob, 5 yrs., and Kalissa, 2 yrs., are my youngest sister’s (Julie ) children. They come to stay with me quite often, Kalissa more so than Jake since he is in school now. They both enjoy helping feed the animals and watching them. Kalissa is our “Lil Ranch Hand,” she would rather be outside with the animals instead of playing with dolls or watching TV. When she first gets up in the morning, here on the farm, she doesn’t even want to eat breakfast before she is wanting to go feed the animals. She calls them all “her babies.” I asked her one day, “why do you call them your babies?” and her reply was, “because they love me.” I have to agree there, she has no fear and can go up to just about any horse, goat, cat, dog, and even a few calves and cows without a single problem, where I would have to work at getting close to them. She loves to help feed and when Jake can be here he helps too, of course, Kalissa has to be boss and tell him how it is done.
So, you see, there is more to farm accessories than just tools. It is the people that do the work and run the business that are essential to the building and maintaining of the structures, grounds and livestock. Without us, there would be no farms.
Cattle, sheep, goats and deer have something in common; they have a digestive system which allows them to utilize roughages, such as hay and grass, which is a major source of their diets. It is also a major source of nutrients for them. Even though they may seem to eat all day and munch on hay or grass, they still need a feed source such as grain. Along with their daily feeding of grain they also require some vitamins and supplements.
Cattle supplements are available through many manufacturers and companies. They are easy to obtain but some can be pretty expensive. One of the biggest expenses in raising cattle is the feed bill. It is not a cheap business especially when you never know when the cattle market might just plummet or rise.
To get an idea of what to feed your herd, there are a few things to consider. There are various classes of nutrients and each nutrient fulfills a specific role in the growth and production of your herd. Energy helps the body with the ability to function; Protein is a building block for the body; and Minerals help with growth, bone formation and reproduction as well as many other functions.
Some minerals to consider are: calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium(salt) and selenium.
Common feedstuffs for cattle are: roughages, grains, oilseeds and byproducts.
We know how it feels when we don’t get the right nutrition into our bodies. We feel under the weather and puny, don’t much feel like doing a thing. Well, we usually don’t think of cattle like that but, if you think on it for a minute you’ll soon realize that if they don’t get the food that they need, they won’t grow so that we can have meat on out tables, they won’t produce the milk that we drink and they won’t have the ability to raise their own babies, on which we depend for our survival. So when you really consider all the factors, it makes sense, don’t you think.
Nutrients and supplements are essential to our livestock and pets. If you would like more information on basic cattle nutrition, check out the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs.
There are many breeds of dogs that people have as pets and then there are the other breeds that people have as working dogs. All breeds can be pets but, some of us have these particularly smart animals to help us out around the farm or ranch. You see them on horse shows working cattle to help their owner round them up for whatever purpose. These beautiful animals can be considered livestock accessories.
We own Border Collies. Well, up until this past summer, we had three. We lost our best girl, Bella, to old age and arthritis, and our boy, Benny, to the hot weather. Right now we have Jessie and she is a young green- horn, that still has a lot to learn. I am not real good with her training because, I don’t know that much about training a working dog. Now teaching my Jack Russell tricks is another story.
Bella, shown in the above photo with her owner, was a huge help around the farm. Whenever we needed to bring up the cattle for whatever reason, you could count on her and Benny to do a pretty decent job. I didn’t matter to her how big or small the chore, she was willing to do whatever she was commanded to get the job done. Some of the commands are : come by, away to me, look back, bring’em to me and down. There are others but I am not an expert. Now that she is no longer with us, and Benny either, we are some what lost. We have been so spoiled in having them here to help us, that what seemed to take maybe an hour to do now takes several. So we are now working with Jessie and maybe we will look into getting another some time in the future.
I would definately consider a Border Collie or another breed of working dog a very useful accessory to our farm and yours, if you like dogs and have the patience for them. If you would like to read and learn more on Border Collies, a book called, “Border Collies In America,” by author; Arthur N. Allen is a good start.
These days anyone that owns or lives on a farm or ranch know that they need livestock equipment in order to maintain their business. This includes many things, such as, fences, gates, livestock panels and etc. Today in this world, in order to keep and protect what is ours, we must keep it fenced in or locked up.
We cannot return to the olden days when there was ”open range” to allow our cattle and horses to roam. Back in the late 1800′s the open range was huge out west. So many acres of land to allow our herds to eat and grow. As seen in many movies, such as a John Wayne classic,”Chisum,” you can see the vast land of open range where his horses and cattle roamed loose and the cowboys would ride for miles and for days to round them up for a drive or for whatever they needed to do. But, as the West became more populated with people looking to make a new start or strike it rich the open range began to disappear. The larger ranches started putting barbed wire fencing around their lands to keep the sod busters and small ranchers from settling on their land and using their water. Many a conflict was started between the settlers and ranchers and the government stepped in and thus the open range was no longer.
So today it is just not safe or practical for us to be able to do this. We have to use the equipment made available to us to keep and protect what we have. As shown in the above photos, this is the modern day “open range” of a few of our 2008 calf herd. A beautiful site wouldn’t you say.
Farm and garden accessories are the same in general but, can be completely different. Take, for instance, the shovel; it can be used to dig in the garden to prepare to plant your vegetables and your flowers. It can also be used to dig up those very same plants come harvest time. Now, look at it in the Farmer’s eye; he may use it to dig a post hole, if not too large, or maybe to dig a trench to drain water or depending on the type of job, there is different kinds of shovels. Let’s see, there are scoop shovels, rounded shovels, spade shovels, square shovels (long and short) and many others.
What about the pitchfork? I use one in my compost pile for my garden and I harvest my sweet potatoes and red and white potatoes using a pitchfork. I also use one to scatter mulch around my garden and flower beds. Then out around the barn we use one to clean stalls, scatter and move straw and bedding for the animals and a few other things.
Then we have our wagons. I have a small one for my garden and we have large ones for moving hay from the fields, loading and moving dirt and rock and many other uses.
Just like tractors, we have the large and larger versions, (John Deere, of course), and they are used for many tasks, moving, hauling, pulling, loading and etc.
Last of all, there are many other farm and garden accessories that have dual uses around the farm like; hammers and nails, saws, screwdrivers, tape measures, pliers, wrenches and well you understand. There are just so many accessories that are used on a farm.
This picture taken from IIRR (International Institute of Rural
Reconstruction Manual,) 1998.
Caring for your horse is the same as caring for yourself or any other animal. They need a substantial amount of TLC and good nutrition, such as supplements and vitamins. You feed yourself everyday, so shouldn’t you do the same for your horse? The nutrition a horse needs will help them grow and mature into a fine animal. They should have plenty of fiber, from grass, in the summer and plenty from hay in the winter. It keeps their digestive system working correctly. Along with the fiber, they need some grain in their diet to give them the nutrients their bodies need for healthy hooves and teeth. A healthy coat keeps them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
I give my horse supplements everyday. He injured his leg a few months ago and has had a long recovery. The supplements and vitamins that I have provided for him has helped him heal well and we will soon be able to take him out for a ride. He has been in a stall for the past eight months with an outside pen to exercise in. He is very anxious to be out in the pasture with the others. I will begin to work more with him now that his leg has healed so he can eventually have more freedom.
I recently learned that if you put a blanket on your horse in the winter for warmth, you’ll need to continue that throughout the season because, their bodies will adjust to the blanket and depend on it for warmth and their coats will not grow as thick to protect them from the elements. Just a tip I thought I would pass on.
As farm accessories, livestock gates come in all shapes, sizes, lengths and weights. They can be made from several kinds of materials such as wire mesh, steel tubing, chain link, wood, vinyl, woven and chicken wire. The height of the gates may also vary depending on your personal needs for your farm or ranch, whether it is to keep something in or out. How you want to secure your gates is another factor to figure in when purchasing your gates.
There are many kinds of gates, from personal use for around your home or property, to out in the pasture on the farm or ranch. Whether it is to keep something or someone out and away from your home to keeping livestock, such as cattle, horses, goats, sheep, chickens, and other animals in there specific areas on the farm, there is a gate made for each situation.
There are also the electronic gates and drive through gates. These are the gates that you can drive up to in your truck, tractor, or vehicle of choice and bump them and they automatically open without you ever having to leave the warmth or convience of your vehicle. These gates are a great comfort for the elderly farmer and for those that have a lot of ground to cover. Even those that ride their horse to check their livestock might find that a bump from their horse or themselves is pretty conveinent. The great thing is you don’t have to worry about not locking the gate, for it does the job for you.
On our farm, we use tubing gates with our electric tinsel fencing. We own Longhorn cattle, Herfords, riding horses, and a Belgium, had up to four Belgiums but, recently downsized. These gates work well for us and is one of our main farm accessories. Now at the horse barn, we did things a little different; we built gates to specifically fit our stalls out of Poplar. They were built to keep the horses and cattle from wanting to climb out of the stall. Believe me, a ton Belgium is Big and when he wants to go somewhere, there’s not a lot you can do! So we built them five and one-half feet high and approximately eight feet wide. Like I said, made to fit. They are double door gates and fasten with a single hook closure with two sliding bars, made from Poplar, one at the top and one at the bottom to give them extra strength and support for when the livestock push against them. They are heavy and study and work very well for us.
So, as you can see, livestock equipment can consist of many items. If you live on a farm or ranch, you know, that one of your farm accessories will and must be a livestock gate of some make or model. Whether you purchase or build it yourself, to keep animals in and people out or whatever the case may be, it is a personal necessity in today’s world.