Working Cattle On Our Kansas Farm – Part One

Vaccinating the calves

Like most tasks on the farm, there are jobs that coincide with the seasons:

Summer means bringing in the hay crop and making or building fence.

Fall means harvest, bringing the cattle herd home from the summer pasture, weaning the calves.

Winter means feeding the cattle hay, and working on equipment.

Spring means calving and planting of crops.

Farmers are so familiar with what is done in each season, that they will often in conversation refer to a season not as Spring or Summer, but as Calving Season, or Planting Season, and everyone in the farming community knows when that is.

Back in March, calving season began, and by early April, most of our cows had calved. And last Saturday, it was time to round up the herd from the small spring pasture, give them their semi-annual vaccinations, and transport them to the summer pasture.

This process started the evening before when Harland lured the herd into the lot on the farmstead with range cubes. Cows will do nearly anything for range cubes, and their calves follow along obediently.

Then early the next morning, Harland, his nephew Andrew, our neighbor Stuart, and myself, gathered together at the farmstead. The first order of the day was to drive the herd into the sorting pens, so the cows could be sorted from the calves. This is done for the safety of the calves. Working cows and calves together in the same pen is dangerous for the calves who may get trampled by excited cows. The cows and calves also have separate traveling accommodations to the summer pasture for this same reason. Cows travel in the big semi truck, while the calves travel via our smaller stock trailer.

Once the cows and calves were segregated into separate pens, it was time to vaccinate the calves. They receive shots for:

Blackleg: a non-contagious but high fatal disease with nearly 100% death loss

Pinkeye: a disease of the cornea that if left untreated can result in severe corneal damage and/or blindness

Viral Pneumonia: may result in extensive and sometimes fatal lung damage

Vaccinating calves
Vaccinating Calves
Vaccinating Calves

To keep track of who has been vaccinated and with what, Stuart and Andrew applied a chalk mark to each calf accordingly, so by the end, everyone was sporting colorful stripes.

Vaccinating calves

Once the calves are vaccinated, it’s the cow’s turn, but we hold off them until the truck arrives. We run the cows through the alley just one time: they get their shots and then exit the alley up onto the truck.

We didn’t have to wait long for the truck to arrive and once he backed up to the loading chute, Stuart and Andrew got to work driving groups of cows into the alley where Harland and I would take care of their shots and pour on for:

STDs: This is self explanatory…yes, cows get STDs too

Pinkeye: a disease of the cornea that if left untreated can result in severe corneal damage and/or blindness

Worms: they receive a pour on for worms

Transportation for the cows
Filling the syringes
Harland vaccinating one of our cows
Cows waiting to board the truck
All aboard!
Cow’s view inside the truck
The truck driver showing each cow to her seat
The driver balancing precariously as a cow heads upstairs

Soon, all the cows were vaccinated, poured, and loaded, and the driver wasted no time getting on the road. He had a hour to go before he would reach the summer pasture. And we needed to load up the calves and get on the road as well.


Coming soon in Part Two, we’ll load up the calves, head to the pasture, and then comes the best part of the year for the cows and us: the release into the summer pasture.

Stay tuned….

Click HERE for Part 2.


Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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2 Responses

  1. Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says:

    So good to see you posting again, Suzanne. I’ve laid off my blog for a couple of years now and keep meaning to get back to it but time passes. Glad to know you guys are doing well. Take care.

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