Monday, September 03, 2007

Cattle are Sometimes a Problem

I ended up breeding two bulls into my small herd. One was a very nice Murray Grey who had become quite friendly, the other a throw back to the Angus. His mother died soon after birth so we hand reared him to the point of safe weaning. He was quite a handful even in his younger days.
The two formed a sort of an alliance and as they grew older their thoughts turned to other things, and when the cows next door came into season no four strand barbed wire fence was ever going to keep them in. Another problem was they always took the rest of the herd with them. This lead to one nasty incident when they were very close to being on the highway.
Our solution was to bring the neighbour's cows into my paddocks (the lady wanted calves anyway). So they made themselves at home and were soon looking after their new offspring. The increased family responsibilities made the bulls a little more protective and a little more aggressive. I never turned my back on them.
Milton, the Angus (Named after the Milton Meat Works, the local abattoir) was always a wanderer. He could negotiate a 4000V electric fence without blinking an eye.
Unfortunately one of my other neighbours (the tourist cabin ones) were not very tolerant of his visits and their young son took a stock whip to Milton one day, driving him back through the barbed wire fence and scaring him so much that he was permanently afraid of human contact.
We decided that it was time to get rid of the terrible twosome. It is a legal requirements that any cattle sent to sale or moved must be electronically identified for tracking purposes. This means inserting an electronic tag in one of their ears.

We got Milton into the race and into the crush to do this and before we had time to get the head bale on him he went beserk. He charged the bale head so hard he sprung the gate open. This is a very well built structure and I have never had a problem with any previous cattle.
He then escaped the yards not by jumping the fence but running straight through it. A friend helping and I were very lucky not to be hurt! Milton was even further traumatised!

While we were contemplating Plan B, devised by Neighbour Bob (now known by request as Winning Trainer Bob) who is an experienced cattle man, we were subjected to some wild and windy weather. A big tree came down over my fence line, flattening many metres and my herd plus the visitors ended up back in my friendly neighbour's yard. This covered the problem of getting her cattle back to her. But we still had Milton and Bully to contend with.
She had a friend, an old cattle man, who said he would come down to have a look at the terrible two and maybe buy them from me.
He thought they were a bit wild for his purposes and really didn't want them but said he could offer us Plan C and get them to market for me by just backing up a cattle trailer to my neighbour's yards and enticing them in with hay. He had friends at the sale yard who would put the electronic tags in in proper bull handling facilities when they arrived.
I had my doubts that this would work!
His plan was for the lady neighbour to hand feed them for a couple of weeks to calm them down and get used to people around them again.
I transported hay over and she fed them all on a daily basis. She told us that she could pat both bulls after two weeks.
The day duly arrived for the pick up. Old Don backed up the trailer, threw in some hay and quietly coaxed the two bulls along a rather flimsy race and up into the trailer.
We all looked in amazement. There was a quiet celebration as they disappeared down the track in a cloud of dust. Anita, the bull whisperer (as she is now known) was particularly happy as I had indicated that Plan D might have to be the infamous "lead pill".
Next morning we headed for the sale. They were both sold as breeders, not to butchers, so they now have a new home, some new lady friends and are someone else's problem.
Even better, I am now $900 richer.
Now all we have to do is get my girls and their children back. I am feeding them on a daily basis over my boundary fence. This weekend Anita will yard her four, I will call mine down to feed, cut the fence and entice them through. Then after a quick repair job, all will be well again.
Sunday 9th Setember
The transfer operation went well. All six are now at home in their old home.