Why do we tag?

And I am not talking about hash tagging, but tagging cattle! Everyone ear tags their cattle a little different or at different times; and that is perfectly fine! Everyone makes a cake a little different also but the end result is normally the same, a wonderful yummy cake. Our result tagging cattle is also the same; a unique number is given to each calf or cow use to identify them!

Imagine a sea of black, black cute little baby calves. You can tell some of them apart because their face may be longer or they are a little smaller or have a bit of white on their belly.

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As you watch them play and run around you notice a larger black calf off by itself. It doesn’t look so good, he has a runny nose and he is not eating. You decide he needs a shot of antibiotics. You call the vet and get the prescription and dosage. When you go back to find the calf you have no idea which one he is!

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You want to be sure you give the correct calf the antibiotics! This is where ear tagging comes into play. We ear tag the calves a month or two after they have been born. When we ear tag them we also castrate the males, which means we remove their testicles in a safe manner. Castrating helps decrease the amount of testosterone in the males, which makes them less aggressive and creates a better quality meat . The decreased amount of testosterone leads to better marbling in the meat, higher quality grade, and a meat that is more tender.

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Once the calves have been ear tagged, we turn them back out with their moms.They will stay with the cows and drink their milk, eat hay, and a little bit of grain until they reach approximately seven months old. Then we will wean them or take them off of their mother’s milk.

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Once the calves have been ear tagged the ear tag is mostly permanent, unless the animal happens to tear it off or it becomes faded. If we have to re-tag the animal, we can simply cut the tag off and re-tag them.

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Ear tags help producers keep accurate records of their animals. It is important for producers to be able to identify their animals to provide a safe food supply to consumers! Have questions? Leave me a comment!

-Bethany

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Moving Day!


Sunday dawned bright and early and it was moving day! Moving day for who you might ask? Not me, but the steers that Wes’s family raised. We didn’t have to pack their bags to move but we did have to prepare them to move…. to the sale barn. It was time for the steers to make it to their next home.


Just like moving day for you or me, there was a lot of work that had to be completed before the steers were loaded up and brought to the sale barn. First, they had to be born! Wes’s family has around 70 cows, mature females that have had a calf before. These cows are bred by three bulls or mature males that are able to reproduce. Why do they have to have so many bulls? Because, on average, 25  is the magic number of how many cows a bull can monitor and breed successfully. A cow comes into heat, or her body is ready to release an egg, around once a month or every three weeks. A bull can detect the hormones released when she comes into heat and he knows she is ready to be bred. That is a full time job! If a farmer wants to make sure all his cows are bred then he has to have enough bulls to go around. If a cow doesn’t have a calf then she didn’t do her job and according to Dad, “If she doesn’t do her job on the farm, then she is eating for free and we can’t make money!”


Once the calf is born, the cow allows the calf to suck or drink milk from her teat. She has four teats on her udder. The calf stays with the cow from 6-10 months of age or 450 to 700 pounds. Normally the farmer decides when to wean the calf. A calf is weaned, or taken off the milk produced by the cow, and put on grain, hay, or grass.The corn these steers eat is raised on Wes’s farm and fed to the steers. Wes also hauls this corn to MFA to be sold to other producers. Some times he has to haul late at night.


Calves are born as either males or females. A female is called a heifer until she has her first calf then she is called a cow. A male is either a bull or can be made into a steer. A bull calf can be castrated, or have its reproductive organs removed, to be made into a steer. A steer has several benefits once it has been castrated: Decreased aggression, higher price when sold, tender meat, a higher grade meat, and additional marbling in the meat.

The steers getting ready for moving day have all been castrated, received up to date vaccinations and shots, and been weaned for several weeks. The 40 steers were sorted into pens and now were ready to be loaded. Wes hooked up the truck to the trailer and backed up to the shoot!


The steers were then loaded onto the trailer and hauled to Callaway Livestock Center. The steers will be bought by other farmer, producers, or feed lot owners. They will be fed more grain and hay until they reach a weight of around 1200 pounds. Once they reach this weight they will be processed and eventually end up as part of your steak that you order at Colten’s or hamburger you eat at the high school basketball game.

-Bethany

A Sea of Blue… FFA Blue


Just as a boat captain guides his boat and crew through various perils, weather, and challenges that is how I view my job. I am an Agriculture Teacher. I guide and maneuver my students through their education. I try to teach them life lessons with patience and experiences in and outside the classroom. I am not a typical teacher that you find in a school. Students who take my class have the opportunity to be a part of one of the largest national youth organizations in the country. The National FFA Organization was founded in 1928 in Kansas City Missouri. Today there are over 610,240 FFA members ranging from ages 12-21 and can be found over 7,665 chapters in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Are all the students in my class farmers? Heck no! FFA is about career success, premier leadership, and personal growth. 32% of membership live in urban and suburban areas and 68% live in rural or farm areas according to The National FFA Organization.

How does this make my class different? I get the chance to know my students in a much broader aspect than any other teacher in the school. FFA members take part in Ag Class as well as several projects, community activities, Area, State, and National events, as well as trips! I just got back from a four day trip with some of the best 40 students in the country, or that’s my opinion at least!

On our trip to the 88th National FFA Convention were able to visit a dairy farm, the Louisville Slugger Museum, Rodeo, Hypnotist Show, played laser tag and demolition ball and attended the 88th National FFA Convention and Expo. Why is the important? As an FFA Advisor and Agriculture Teacher, I may be the first person who has taken these students out of the state for their first time or spent a night in a hotel or even been away from their family!

I love my job because I have the chance to change student’s lives. I was asked by the National Association of Agriculture Educators why I chose my career. I spoke on the stage at National Convention in front of 61,000 PEOPLE!! It was the most amazing and nerve wracking experience of my life! Check out the video on our Facebook Page!

Like any job, there are those days where I literally want to hand in my resignation letter and never set foot back in the school. But like I tell my students, “I like being around you all 98% of the time.” And that is the truth. The best part of my job is literally every day.And even sometimes each moment, there a different experience.

I couldn’t ask for a better career or group of students. I get the opportunity to be around students who want to take my class. They excel in the agriculture department because we learn by hands on experience. Do we take notes and lecture? Sure we do! But I have the opportunity to touch students’ lives through my humor, sarcasm, positive attitude, and a love for students and agriculture. I want to encourage everyone to do something they love and are passionate about. I love that I get to shape and mold the future minds of our nation.

-Bethany

A Working Controversy 

Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. Of course, I love all the typical fall things, bonfires, sweaters and the leaves changing colors. But what makes it even better is the fact that deer season is coming, Thanksgiving is almost here and we get to do one of my favorite farm activities: working cows.

The cows headed for the lot lead by Dad and a bag of range cubes.

Most people call me crazy or at least give me weird looks when I say that I love working cows. But I just love the fact that we get to bring all the cows up, check for health issues and give them their shots, and then let them all go again. My inner cowgirl also likes to play ranch hand for a day!

All the cows are caught, lets take selfie!

Of course, whenever I say giving cows shots, I enter straight into the latest controversy, this time involving Subway.

Each year, we feed out the steers from our herd and sell that beef directly to consumers. We get a lot of questions, but none of these questions have ever stemmed from antibiotics. Mainly the questions we  are what do you feed them, do they get grass, and how do you cook brisket?

One of our butchering steers.

But when giving antibiotics, we, like most cattlemen, give the recommended dosage to keep cow and calf.

Making notes on what vaccines to give to each cow, calf and heifer.

We use syringes that can be set to give a specific amount. But when working cows, we give vaccines, not actual antibiotics. Vaccines help prevent sickness from happening, while antibiotics help stop it once it has already happened.

Bethany ready to go!

Generally, it’s Bethany’s job to know what shots are giving to each cow and how much. She will then hand that shot to our neighbor, Rex, who will either give it subcutaneous (under the skin) or intramuscular (in the muscle).

The only picture of me in the lot, of course with no cows.

Dad and I work the cows through the lot to the shoot. Most of our cows have been on our farm long enough that they know if they get through the shoot, there’s usually grain on the other side. But then you have the speedy little calves.

A cow patiently waits for her turn so she can get back to her range cubes.

Working cows in the fall also involves cutting the calves, so once one bull calf goes through the others need a little more convincing.

I get to hold the tail while our neighbor cuts the bull calves.

When it all said and done, each cows is ready to beat any problems that may come this winter, and we are dog tired!

Did I answer all your questions? If not, ask them! I would love to clarify!

~Nicole