Our veterinarian is a vital ranch team member

 This post is a collaboration with Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I received compensation, but all opinions are my own.

Sustainability is such a complex idea! Everyone around seems to be talking about sustainability. Ranchers and farmers are focused on being sustainable—and that means taking care of the land, cattle, and people, and it also means being profitable. Right now, on the ranch, our focus is taking care of the cattle. There are so many jobs that need to be accomplished, but the most important is to focus on animal care.

Most ranches in America are family owned and operated, so the animal care team is often the husband and wife who own the ranch, their kids and possibly their parents or siblings.  Another key member of the team is the local veterinarian. On our ranch, it is vital that the local veterinarian, Dr. Kathryn Miller, is familiar with our cowherd. She comes out to the ranch when we are vaccinating cattle, checking for pregnancy, or just needing a bit of advice on a cow’s health! But most importantly, Dr. Miller helps us plan our herd health program.

“What’s a herd health program?”

A herd health program is a very precise plan coordinated to keep our cattle feeling good and not sick! With Dr. Miller's help, we decide exactly what our cattle need at exactly what time of the year. This includes what dates to plan to be calving, when to vaccinate the calves and cows as well as what vaccines they need, and even when and how to wean the calves for the lowest amount of stress on them. Then we get the veterinarian scheduled on our calendar to have her help us assess them throughout the year.

Today, we are checking the cows for pregnancy and Dr. Miller brings her portable ultrasound machine—she can tell if the cow is pregnant, project when it will be born, look for twins and if we take extra time, she could tell the calf’s gender! We usually are just happy with knowing the cow is healthy and pregnant and the calf’s due date! When you have 285 heifers (those are young cows who are pregnant with their first calf) to check, we focus only on the cattle to get the job done quickly and efficiently!


The first job when we want to check the cows is to gather them up into a pen so we can walk them through an alleyway one at a time and catch each one so the veterinarian can use the ultrasound machine to check them each. Our cattle are calm and trust us, because we have always worked calmly with them, not raising our voices or waving our arms to scare them. They know that we are not to be afraid of, so they are safer to walk around and pose no danger to us or to each other. This is called “Low Stress Cattle Handling” and cattle ranchers actually can attend a training to learn about low stress tactics.

This year, we had great luck with our pregnancy exams, despite hot weather. Dr. Miller said we should be expecting 266 calves from these heifers starting in January! That means the rest of our team (a.k.a. the family) can start preparing for calving season when we will have hundreds of baby calves running around on the ranch! Looks like it will be a busy spring!

1 comment:

  1. good to hear from you . been a while . thank you so may God Bless you and your family !


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