Moving the Bottle Calves to the Pasture

In Livestock by Laura CrossleyLeave a Comment

Living on a farm, we all-too-often have to “work with what we’ve got.” We run into way too many moments where “if we just had a ____” can quickly lead to a 1-hour trip to the farm store partnered with an expensive bill to solve the issue. Sometimes, that’s really the best way to get things done. Over the past week, though, we’ve been doing as much as we can as quickly as we can to ensure all of the animals are set and ready for the ice, snow and extreme cold ahead.

To pull that off, we’ve really had to stay in the “what have we got?” mode when trying to solve problems.

In addition to all the other chores going on, we needed to get the bottle calves moved to the pasture. The previous three were especially tame and followed a bucket the entire distance. These two were weaned on a much tighter timeline – so they’re not quite as chill. Our attempts to have even one of them follow a bucket failed horribly.

We ended up wrangling him with a horse lead and dog leash – then guiding him to the pasture with the other larger cows.

Naturally, that revealed a glaring flaw in our entire plan: the electric fence was set too high for his size. He walked right under it. Within minutes, Aaron and I were both running about the pasture trying to catch the stray calf.

We snagged him and Aaron led him to the corral. We set him up with hay and water bucket. On the fly, we were pretty satisfied with our make-shift solution. We did, however, still need to get the second calf down with the other – and the corral was even further than we had originally planned for the pasture.

We attempted the same leash/lead strategy with the second calf. She fought hard, though, and it was obvious that fighting a lead on her neck for the full distance to the corral wasn’t going to be safe.

“We have a kennel,” Aaron said.

“We can put it on a wood palette and tow the palette,” I suggested.

And that’s precisely what we did. Somehow, Aaron squeezed the huge calf into the equally huge kennel. We had the entire thing on a palette and attached to the side-by-side. Then, I slowly towed the sled to the corral while Aaron walked alongside and made sure we didn’t pull anything apart.

The other 4 cows were quick to greet the new babies through the gates. Ultimately, we’re thinking this is a pretty great way for them to all get familiar with each other while the calves grown just a little larger for the temporary fence.