As summer creeps on, the cows continue to graze on pastures. Throughout the summer, the cows are rotated between the pastures we have near the farm. During the tornado a month ago, fallen power lines broke a lot of the fences we had separating the different herds placed with certain bulls. This is to make sure no cow is bred into the same family that could result in genetic mutations. Luckily the cows should all be bred and it wasn’t too much of a concern. The entire herd now roams together, which makes checking cows a little easier.
Our ranch doesn’t use horses for transportation, therefore calf roping is somewhat of a lost art. This summer, my dad invested in a tool called a dart rifle to treat cows and calves without having to rope or corral them. This saves valuable time and keeps us and the cows safer when trying to medicate them.
The dart rifle is a made of the same materials and looks and operates similar to a real rifle.
The gun is loaded with metal syringe like “bullets” filled with whatever medication you are wanting to give to the animal.
After loading the gun, you pump the gun like an air rifle, similar to a BB gun you had growing up. As the gun is fired, aiming at the calves shoulder, the syringe is pressurized. Medication is dispensed within two seconds of impact on the animal. The syringe soon falls out and the calf is on their way.
In the video above my dad is administering a pink eye vaccine to a bull that was having an issue with one of his eyes. You can see the syringe hit above his shoulder.
If we didn’t have this tool, it would take us hours to get the calves loaded and taken back to working facilities. When we get there we would have to sort the cows from calves, sort the calves that need pink eye vaccine from the ones who don’t, run them through the chute, then load them all back up and take them back to pasture. This could add stress to the herd and during these hot summer days could end badly for them. The rifle got the job done in under three minutes. Makes us wonder why we never had one sooner… 🙂