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BISON TALES

Seven Blue and her unborn calf

May 03, 2003

Although we are animal lovers, we don't name our cows, but each one does have a distinct personality and traits that when you spend enough time around them, makes them individuals. And so, we know them by their tag numbers. Seven Blue is no exception.

Seven Blue and her Calf

One day, on our inspection of the herd, we noticed one cow that had a single strand of wire wrapped around her neck and about 30 ft. dragging behind her. Sometimes with animals, now matter how hard you try to keep them safe, they get into trouble, and yes, this certainly was trouble. Although we handle our animals as little as possible, there are times when you need to intervene, and this was one of them. We had to save Seven Blue.

Our "catch" pen is the main starting point for most of the situations where we have to handle an animal. It's a round shaped pen with one gate to enter and exit. After letting Seven Blue and a few others in the "catch" pen, we had to let the others out, while keeping Seven Blue in.

Oddly enough, she hung back, somehow knowing what we were trying to do. All the others were let out, with just Seven Blue and her wire dragging along behind her. With buffalo, the idea is to get behind them and usually they will go the other direction unless they feel trapped, and then they will fight to live. The gate was wide open and Perry was quietly walking behind Seven Blue. She didn't want to leave the pen at first, and it took a few trips around the pen, before she decided it was the way out.

The rest of our handling system is a series of smaller pens operated with gates and pulleys. At the end of the system are 3 small box stalls and a weigh pen, until finally a squeeze where the animal can be held still for tagging or any veterinary work.

Seven Blue, after leaving the round catch pen, went through all the pens, box stalls and into the squeeze with no difficulty. In the squeeze, a quick snip of the wire, and we were done. Seven Blue was saved with no injuries and very happy to get back out with the herd.

Although I realize we are dealing with farm animals and not pets, I still feel bad when they are in distress. I take things a little harder than Perry. When we were finished I was exhausted. I said, "Boy I could sure use a drink". Perry's reply was: "Wow that was really fun." I'm gonna finish cutting the grass." The whole thing, from the time we let Seven Blue and the rest in the round pen, took about 20 minutes. That day I learned having a handling system that works well is an essential tool in caring for our animals.

Later that year Seven Blue had a healthy heifer calf, and she's still part of our herd.