The summer is our busiest time of year. we have so many things that need doing and it always seems like we run out of time to get everything done. This means prioritizing and ensuring the most important things get done. These always include the various vaccinations, pasture moves, and haying, but a few years ago we decided to add something different into the mix and it has become one of things we make sure happens every year.
This is blood testing our first year heifers to see if they are pregnant. This has become a priority for one main reason, we can use this test to see if the these heifers that, you well remember, we AI bred about six weeks ago, took on the AI. This is important to the ranch because the way we run our program we want to make sure we keep the heifers that have bred on the AI, these heifers are hopefully more fertile and easier to AI which is what we want for our herd and will hopefully produce offspring much like themselves. This helps the AI go better in the future and we are also hoping the next calving season will go easier by keeping the heifers that have been bred to a bull with "calving ease". The idea is to make our lives a little easier and to, hopefully, have a better herd. So this early blood test is more accurate than the later preg check at telling us if they caught on the AI.
The process by which we blood test is not all too complicated, just time-consuming. It does take a slight amount of expertise. We gather the heifers the day before we are ready to ship them up to their cushy summer pasture. Then we bust out our pre-ordered vacuum tubes and our paper work, and one by one, load them into the chute to get our blood sample. This is done by lifting the heifer's tail and putting a needle into the vein found there. The expertise comes in here, the vials are vaccuum sealed, so the trick is to not lose the vacuum that helps extract the blood. If this happens you are stuck with a needle and syringe which is much more time consuming. Each vial is labeled with the heifer's tag number and then their corresponding sample number which is also on the paperwork we fill out. We do this for roughly 200 heifers. It is a painstaking process but one which is worth the work in the long run. The samples are then packaged and shipped with the paperwork to Eagle Talon Enterprises in Laramie, Wy where the blood is tested and the results are emailed to us within 48 hours of them receiving the samples.
Once this job is done we ship the heifers within the next couple of days up to a leased pasture on the mountain where the girls will spend some time until they join the rest of the herd on our own mountain pasture. We load them onto trucks and unload them at the very top. The truck ride takes only about 45-60 minutes. Then they are followed down to the bottom of the pasture where they will pass by several watering spots so they can find them all and live the good life for a while.
There are a number of other big priorities coming up that we can tell you more about next week. We hope your summer is going well and not going by too fast! I know ours is getting away from us. Comment and tell us a few of your summer priorities, whether it's an annual camping trip or simply making sure you get to the pool at least a few times during these warm summer months.
by Megan Greet