Part of our branding routine includes, marking our calves. Running our cattle with so many others means we need easy ways to identify which is ours. We use tags, but sometimes tags fall out. And we use brands, but we can only see them when we are up close. So we have ‘nother other (in the words of The Rancher’s Sidekick) way to identify them.
The first is marking the ears. Calves naturally have a really full ear that can be easily seen. This makes for a great place to mark. Some notch out the ears, some do a split. We trim down the ear making for pointy, less full ears.
I have to tell you something… I’m not a fan of marking the ears. They look like a bat or something… But I do like how easy it is to pick up a pair of binoculars and spot those pointy little ears!
The second marking we make is a waddle. A neck waddle. I’m sure that we call it a waddle because is waddles to-and-fro… To make a waddle, we cut a flap of skin back off of the neck. When it heals what we have left is a wiggling bit of skin hanging from the neck. We only waddle the heifers since we will keep them as replacement heifers down the road while we sell the steers. No reason to waddle a calf that won’t need it!
Once again, NOT a fan of the extra wiggling, unattached waddle… but it makes it SUPER easy to identify our cattle!
Its important that these marks are done right. We don’t want too big of a slice taken from the ears or too big of a cut on the neck. We want as little stress on the calves as possible (because they have ALREADY had stress). So we let The Rancher and Rancher Sr. do it for the most part. Its a good job for them…