The Broken Horn D Ranch is a full spectrum beef operation. We raise calves from our mother cows (cow/calf), retain the calves and grow them up (stocker/feeder) and then process them for beef and sell the finished products direct to the consumer. The majority of cattle operations only perform one or two of these phases.
Our calves are born from late January through March and stay with their mothers until fall. We usually wean in October, when the last cutting of hay is made and before any winter weather arrives. We try for a window of time with good weather – no rain to further stress the calves. Our cow herds live in four different pastures, of 400-900 acres each, so typically work one pasture a day until finished. The weaning process starts with gathering the pasture – riding horse back and collecting all the cows, calves and the bull and driving them to the holding corrals. Careful head counts are taken to be sure we have them all! The bull is sorted off and loaded into a trailer for a ride to the Bull Pasture, where he will spend the winter with the other bulls.
Next, we sort the cows off the calves and load the calves into trailers to be hauled to the ranch headquarters. The mother cows are processed one at a time through the chute system, receiving a clostridial vaccine, a leptospirosis and vibriosis vaccine and a topically applied de-wormer. Any old cows with worn out teeth or bad bags are culled for our pet food production.
Once the calves are hauled to the headquarters pens, they are unloaded and provided water with probiotics and bunks of free choice, homemade hay. When the calves have settled, we begin processing – running them through the chutes, we first administer a topical MBAS, Maternal Bovine Appeasing Substance, to the skin above the nose and the nuchal skin. This helps the calves relax, remain calm and keeps their cortisol levels down. We also administer an intranasal respiratory vaccine which gives rapid immunity. Weaned calves are very susceptible to respiratory issues due to the stress of weaning. Calves are observed closely several times a day to be sure they are eating and drinking adequately. We also water down the pens to keep dust to an absolute minimum. Bull calves are separated from the heifer calves so we don’t have any “opps” breedings!
In order to spread out the stressors of weaning, we wait 10 days or so, again with an eye on the weather, before administering the clostridial booster and a respiratory & viral diarrhea vaccine. By now the calves are accustomed to us handling them on foot, feeding, watering, cleaning their pens and working them calmly through the chutes. Next, we start sitting in amongst them on horseback, progressing gradually to moving them, sorting, separating and regrouping so they remain calm during the process. Keeping cattle calm, gentle and relaxed makes for a healthier animal and superior end product beef.
When the calves are fully “bawled out”, have forgotten all about mom, eating well and handling quietly, then they are transitioned to small pastures adjacent to the holding pens. From there, we move them to bigger pastures with the yearlings and two year olds, where they will eat to their hearts content and grow until they reach harvest weight early in their three year old year.
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Broken Horn D Ranch