Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The System

Although our ranch might seem like some freak circus side show, what with all the twin calves and near death animals brought into my home, there is some normalcy here with the vast majority of our cattle. We need to follow a system or things would get pretty our of control, pretty fast. They are typically born, gender is determined, and they are logged in our little book o' calves. Mom's ID number, gender, date born, special remarks all in that order.We then create a tag based on their mother's number. If your mom is number 212 (she would be 9 years old as the first digit indicates the year that she had her first calf when she would have been 2 years old) and you are a female that gets to stay and join the herd, you get a purple tag in your ear that says 212. If your mom is number 523 (she would be 6 years old -- born in 2003) and you are male, you get an orange tag that says 523. If your mom is number 935 (she would be 2 years old and you would be her first calf) and you are a female that we will probably sell, you get a yellow tag. Purple tag = female to keep. Yellow tag = female to sell unless we like the looks of you at shipping time. Orange tag = male that will definitely be sold. There will be a quiz later.
Now that a tag is made, we (as in Danish Cowboy only) heads off to the pasture to tag and administer a vaccine and some FastTrack. If you really want to know what those green bands are for, please contact me privately. And make sure you REALLY want to know.
To review: Bull calf. Orange tag. Not lucky.
Female calf. Yellow tag. Potentially lucky.
Not lucky, but cute.
Probably not lucky, especially if she does this pose at shipping time. And also, she is red which does not bode well since her rancher likes this homogenous (aka boring) herd. But there's always hope.
Again with the cuteness, but not lucky in any way, shape or form.

And if you're really lucky and you come out with a cute white speckled face and your rancher's wife happens upon you after you have just been born and you are female and that same rancher's wife begs and pleads and whines about how unfair it is that she should be sold just because she looks a little different and that same rancher is tired of hearing about all this unfairness, you get to stay.


  1. Is the color system a universal way of tagging cows?


  2. Only if the universe revolves around our ranch. The USDA would REALLY like us to insert microchips in each calf so the animal can be more easily tracked. You could then wave a wand at each animal and record its number whenever you move it or sell it. The microchip is in for life whereas ear tags tend to fall out or fade over time.