Dairy cows are used to being handled on a daily basis, but suckler cows are not. So when we have to bring the herd in for summer treatments it takes a lot of forethought and preparation to ensure the day goes without mishap.
The herd likes to be outside undisturbed in the sunshine eating and lolling about all day and doesn’t appreciate being brought in for a day standing in the yards.
But it’s necessary in order to keep all the cows and calves healthy, and once we get them into the yard they receive worm pour on and fly spray, and it’s also an opportunity to check their general health and to make sure all their ear tags are intact.
So in preparation for this annual summer event my husband has to be a bit wily because the older cows know what’s coming.
In the week leading up to them coming in he doesn’t let them through to new pasture. Instead he encourages them to come to the paddock closest to home each morning where he gives them supplementary hay.
He also sets up a funnel of electric fencing that will be used to herd them into the yard, but at this stage they can simply walk through each end.
On the chosen day he goes out early as soon as he hears them in the paddock, and while they are eating the hay he has fed to them he quietly nips down to the bottom of the field and closes the gate so that they can’t get out.
If you want to see a visual picture of what happens when the herd comes in for their summer treatments check out the 10 minute video attached to this column.