Monday, 20 June 2011

Banned From Cows! :(

When the average mom would want their average teenage daughter to study for tests she would usually take away the kids iPod, phone, computer or other electronic devices that keep teenagers off-task. Well as my mom found out many years ago, I’m not your average teenager.

Picture from:

Around the middle of June starts the time all kids in school dread, final exams. As my mother is well aware of, I get distracted quite easily and she knew that she should do something to help keep me on task. So like most average mothers she decided to help me by eliminating something that she knew would be a huge distraction for me. No it wasn’t the computer, my phone or my iPod, (and not just because of the reasons that I hardly use the computer or the not a lot of different people text me) it because those weren’t my biggest detractions.
Now being on an agriculture blog you can probably guess what is. Yes, my cows! Before exams started creeping up on me, I spent every day outside working with my cows for hours, getting them ready for the next show, but now all of that stopped because of school.
Although as much as I don’t like being forced to study, I must admit that being banned from cows had really helped me concentrate and I have actually managed to study quite a bit. But the good news in its only 3 more days till I get my cows back!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Harsh Yet Abrasive

Being that today is Father’s Day I thought id show you a video that my sister and I found a few years ago that we found perfectly explained our dad. Ok well maybe not perfectly, we had to change a few of the words, as you can see from the lyrics I have put in below. Like the girls in One More Girl, we really do appreciate all that thinks my dad has done for us and mean this all in fun! Thanks dad and Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads in the agriculture industry!

Harsh Yet Abrasive

I watched him pack his bags today, he’s goin’ on the road
A full complement of underwear (and a dinosour) completes his heavy load
He’s fussin’ and he’s fuming, he’s done his idiot check
He’s the cock of our little walk, we salute as he exits

He’s harsh yet abrasive, that’s our dad
He might scream and yell a lot but he’s still mad
Efficiency is everything
Every castle needs a king
He’s harsh yet abrasive, that’s our dad

He leaves the house at ten a.m. to catch his 11 o clock flight
Just drive a little faster - that’s his motto, am I right?
Leave no time for incidents - a flood, a war, a quake
And don’t forget those assholes on the road, over  use their brakes


When he gets home there’s lingerie strewn out on the floor
There’s oneless cat and one less bull he can adore
My sister’s got him all worked up ‘bout how many boys she’s kissed
And my boyfriend drank up all his Crown Royal  and now he’s pissed


I guess I’ve talked a lot of smack about my dear old man
But I know he really truly does the very best he can
I know I got my chops from him and my sense of right and wrong
And a little bit of temper too but that’s another song


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Toddlers and Tiaras Vs Beef and Banners

A few weeks ago my sister and I were watching the show Toddlers and Tiaras on TLC. About half way into this program my dad comes down the stairs and looks at the TV with kinda a funny look on his face. He then points to one of the little contestants on the show and says, “this one is going to win.” My sister and I laughed and asked him what he could possibly know about beauty pageants and he said, “well it’s the exact same as cattle shows.”

For anyone who hasn’t seen this show Toddler and Tiaras, it takes you into the lives of young girls and boys that are involved in beauty pageant about a week before their big event. And although I wouldn’t say it was exactly like cattle shows, I do notice many similarities.

In these beauty pageants the little children are judged on their beauty, personality and costumes.
In cattle shows this can be a lot the same. When cattle are being judged, most judges look for how they are going to perform down the road and how they look today (beauty)
In the beauty pageant word, the contestant work hard weeks before so that they know their routine and often hire coaches to help these girls perform their best.  The show also gives you a look at the struggles parents can often have when their children get moody or not want to practice anymore.

I think this in one of the parts of the beauty parent I can relate to. Weeks before a show I try to work with my animal’s everyday so that when our big day comes they will act their best and will be easy to work with. Now as for the hiring coach’s part, I will admit I have more than once had to phone a friend in get help will an animals that had, well... an interesting personality.  But I think the moody apart is the one I know best! If you have ever tried to lead around three year old cows on a hot summer day it really isn’t the easiest and I know all about them not wanting to cooperate! Now I’m not meaning to relate three year old girls and three year old cows in a bad way, I’m just saying I can sometimes see similarities in the tantrums they may have.
And finally when the pageant comes around, these little girls are often spray tanned, have to wear makeup, fake eye lashes and fake hair.
Now although I can’t exactly remember the last time I spray tanned a cow or gave her fake eyelashes, I still have the same goal and the beauty pageant moms. At show many people will often clip the animals and add products to their hair. The goal that both the beauty pageant moms and I are trying to reach is to make the little girl, or in my case a cow, look as good as they possibly can.
My intent in this blog was not to offend beauty pageant contestants, but to give you a better idea of what cattle shows enquire and for you to hopefully get a laugh out of it.

Monday, 13 June 2011


In the cattle industry today, identification is the most important tools used by ranchers. Identification is not only a must for selling animals, but also come in handy when a rancher needs to identify a calf from his/her own herd. Cattle identification has come a long way throughout the years, and a very common and reliable way of cattle identification now is tattoos. These tattoos will code for a farm name or breeder name and an animal’s registration number and are found in the animal’s ear.
This method of identification involves the use of needle points in the shape of letters and numbers to pierce the front surface of the ear. You rub special tattoo paste or ink into the pierced area. As the punctures heal, the ink or paste is trapped under the surface of the skin, and it shows up as the numbers/letters, which can be used when registering the animal. If you do the job properly, tattoos will remain in the ear throughout the life of the animal and they do not scar the animal.
But the cattle industry is not the only one that has become a fan of tattooing, many industries today use tattooing as a favourite way of identification.
Racehorses have been using tattoos for a very long time. It has become a custom that North American racehorses get tattoos in their upper lips so that owners and people working with these animals can identify them. This series of numbers and letters code for the animal’s birth date and registration number.
Many other animals get tattooed in order to identify them such as purebred rabbits (left ear) dogs(ear) and even geese (on their feet)
Tattooing animals is a great way of identifying them and is safe for the animals.

Thursday, 2 June 2011


EPD’s are just one of may tools used in selecting cattle .  They show expected performance of an individual and allows breeders to compare cattle of the same Contemporary Group. They evaluate traits such as growth related traits (BW, WW, YW, Milk), carcass traits (REA, FAT,)  and reproductive efficiency ( CE, MCE)

 Benefits of EPD’s:
üHelp determine the breeding value of future progeny.
üThey allow a fair comparison to be made  by eliminating environmental factors such as climate, management and feed.
üAre the best tool available to compare animals in different  herds, countries or of different ages.
How to use EPS:
EPDs are used to compare animals by comparing that animal to an average. Averages are created every year and give a guide line of what to look for in an ideal animal. 
When selecting for
üCalving Ease you would look at an animals EPDs and compare their number to the average (4.5)  and aim for being as close to average as possible.
üTotal maternal traits are made up of : TM EPD = Milk EPD + 1/2 (WW EPD) . You compare the TM on the animals EPDs to the average (31). Keep in mind average is ideal but above average is superior.
üThe carcass make up of an animal consists of may different components such as REA, MRB and FAT. Each of these components can be compared to the years average to make up an animals carcass value.
Explanation of terms:Contemporary Group: A contemporary group is a group of calves that were born in the same year and season, in the same herd, of the same sex and were managed alike. The differences in performance among those calves are mostly genetic, because all those calves were exposed to the same environment.

BW: Birth Weight
WW: Weaning Weight
YW : Yearling Weight
MK: Milk
TM: Total Maternal
CE: Calving Ease
REA: Rib Eye Area
MRB: Marbling Score
STAY: Stayability (predicts the probability that a bull's daughters will remain in the herd until at least six years of age.)

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Crazy Clipping

unclipped Animal
As the countdown to my 4-H achievement day is well under way (with only 3 days remaining) this week has been extremely hectic. These past two days I have spent helping other 4-H member clip there steers. Clipping steers helps to give them a more finished look and if a steer has enough hair you are actually able to hide some flaws that you don’t like about the steer.
For 4-H we try to keep it simple so the members can get right in there and not have to be worried about messing up.  The easiest and part of the steer that fits these criteria the best is the head. Clipping the steers head really makes a big change to the steer’s image and has no certain way of clipping that a member must fallow.
Clipped Animal
I usually like to start with the top of their head, starting at their nose and going up first and then going down to endure that all the hair is shaved right down. Near the top of their head you can see where the animal’s head will peak, this is called there poll. Here we will unusually leave some hair so that the animals face will look longer and can make some look a little more feminine.
Next I like to move to the side of the head, where we will go straight up to get all the hair off. We then will do a v-shape from the bottom of their neck to the line we created from the side of their face. This helps to make the steers shaved head flow into their body making them look a little more natural.
Then I just continue cleaning up around their face in different direction to get all the hair off. As you can see just clipping an animal’s head really makes a big difference to their overall look and is a great start for members to learn how to clip. So although this week is hectic and crazy, it is great to see members getting involved and wanted to learn more about clipping and making their animals look as good as possible.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

My Boys

I strongly believe in the old saying it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s about how you play the game. Now me being the farm girl that I am have found a way to relate that to my life and to cows.
 For the past two years I have been showing a blue roan steer in my 4-H club. A blue roan is a calf that is a cross usually between something like Black Angus and a Shorthorn, creating a calf with a blue tinge to their hair.  When I first discovered these steers I fell in love with their colour and the amount of hair they had, I decided to show them in 4-H.

Steve Earl!

I was the first one in a long time to show a blue roan steer in my district so I have heard many comments about them. Everything form they will never be as good as a red steer to they are just big puppy dogs and have even had people worrying that it was because my steer was a blue colour, it was sick.  
Last year my first Blue Roan steer was named Steve Earl. He was the friendliest steer I every had with a very laid back personality and ended up weighing over 1400 pounds! Steve Earl has helped me learn more about clipping and fitting than any other project I had ever had. Even with his large ears and big head, I still thought he was beautiful!

John Wayne!

 My steer this year is names John Wayne and even though he doesn’t have the weight that Steve Earl had, he is very easy going and is a little more proportionate. I am very excited to see how he will do this weekend at our 4-H Show and Sale!
I have always called my two blue roan steers my boys because of how important they have been to me and all that they have taught me. But most important they have shown me that it’s not about winning, it’s about enjoying yourself and doing your best.