Saturday, June 23, 2012


So I'm not sure how many of you know I work at a feedlot, but now you know if you didn't! It's not a huge feedlot. Maximum capacity is only about 15,000 - 16, 000 head but even with this many you get calves! It's feedlot policy to give any heifers an abortion drug on their arrival to the feedlot so most calves are premature on some level. This alone would present a huge health risk for the calves not to mention any other drugs their mom is given that effects them as well. To sum things up, life is a challenge that usually ends early for the majority of calves born at the feedlot.

Last Friday we had about 330 heifers arrive from another, for lack of an easier understood term, feedlot. They're called Background cattle, meaning they've received many of the drugs and procedures we use on cattle at our feedlot but they've simply been eating lower ration food. Meaning less amounts of grain and additives to make them fatter, faster! Still, many of the drugs these girls would've received could and would be harmful to a fetus however, because they were from another feedlot setting it was debated on whether we should abort them on arrival or not. Afterall, they should have been sequestered from any steers/bulls where they were and already aborted when they arrived there. This debate was ended swiftly when, two days after they arrived at the feedlot, the pen riders went to their pen to bring them to the barn to be processed for arrival and entered into the computer. What did they find in that pen? Why, about 330 heifers and one baby! This means she may be a full term calf since her mom wasn't aborted yet! Although she may still suffer effects from other drugs her mom received.

I'd been waiting for one of these little beauties all spring as the new arrivals aborted left right and centre. However few calves were found alive and those that were found homes elsewhere for this reason or that, so when one of the pen riders asked if I wanted a calf I said "Hell yeah!". A short while later they brought in this sweet little black girl who I promptly named Stella in my head. (I couldn't say it out loud for fear of jinxing her!) They milked out her crazy mom, fed her a bit and left her snoozing in a box stall until work was over. Then I loaded her up in my back seat on old floor mats which she promptly pooped on. She spent the ride home surfing around, staring out the window and sucking on my hair.

When we got home she was introduced to Farley who really had no clue what she was or what he was supposed to do with her. Growl, play, chew, lick, chase, run from? Too many options, too many mixed signals! She soon settled into her little room in the barn and quickly became a piggy constantly wanting food.

Stella is now five days old and still going strong. She's not out of the woods yet, of course, but she's enjoying running through the grass, chasing Farley and taking naps in the sun while hiding in grass taller than she is! Her only wish would be that she could eat constantly all day and that I didn't have to go to work so she could just follow me around outside forever instead of snoozing in the barn for the day.

Here's a photo of Stella when she's 2 days old. This is the first day she really got to explore outside. She was pretty shy and hadn't quite gotten the idea of me as mom yet so she wasn't super confident but she did give a few things a sniff or two just like the weeds in this photo!


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