Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Heat Checking 101

I think that I mentioned this the other day, but if I didn't I will say it again. We are gearing up for a flush tomorrow. We are flushing only about 10 cows this time, whereas we normally have two days of flushing and do around 20 or so cows. If you have started reading this and have no clue what "flushing" means, check this out.

So tomorrow will be the culmination of about two weeks of hard work. We have been giving shots, checking heats, breeding cows, and Catherine and I just got back from giving our cows that are in the group a pep talk to make sure they know they need to have about 10 embryos each. We also picked a few dewberries on the trip too, but I will save the dewberry stuff for another blog.

One of the most important steps of getting ready for a flush is checking the heats. This way we know when we should breed the donors and have an idea of how many recips we have that will work. The following explains just what it is that I have to check for and after reading this, you all should be able to apply for a heat checking position.

First you need a group of cows to check heats on.

Here is one group of the recips. We have just over 100 recips that we set up for this flush. These will be the cows that play the surrogate mom for the embryos they will receive from the purebred cattle.

We also paint the tailhead of the cattle to help us out. You see, sometimes the cattle come in heat in the middle of the night and we normally just check the donors at night. The reason for that is, we have to know exactly when the donors come in heat, so we know when to breed them. The recips just have to show a heat to know that they will maybe work for putting an embryo in. But the reason for the tailhead painting is this, if a cow comes in heat and is mounted (I will get to this later) their paint will rub off. So I may not see the cow in heat, but if the paint is gone I know she was.

Also notice the green leaf on the cow. I didn't put that there but thought that it was rather strange that our cow had a tree growing out of it. You heard it here first!

Ok, after the shots have been given and the tails have been painted it is time to sit back and watch. What are you looking for you may ask?

This is what you want to see, standing heat. (You do know what a heat is right? It is when a cow is in estrus.) So when I see this I mark down on my sheet that has all the recip numbers on it. I put the time that I saw the cow in heat, and then check for others.

Lookie Here! Another one!

Notice anything funny about this picture? Look real close. Do you see it? That's right, there is a bull in the background. Our poor Brahman bull 159/7 is in a pen right beside where we had a group of recips. He can see all the action, but can't get in on any of it. Better luck next time big fella.

Why the different application for the above picture? Well I just wanted something different. Deal with it will ya! I also wanted a different logo, but looks like someone thought we should keep what we got. I will address this later in another blog.

Ok, here are two more cows. Can you tell which on has been in heat. Let's say you are me and just drive up on these two. One isn't mounting the other, but on has been in heat and one hasn't.

Check out the tailheads. C34 is still holding out, but the cow in front of her has been in heat. She has no paint left.

This is something else you will see when checking heats. No, the cow isn't smiling. It is called the fleming response. Bulls are normally thought of with this behavior. There is a special sensory organ that helps detect heat located somewhere in an animals head. Anyway, this is what it looks like. Sometimes Catherine and I try to do our best imitation of this and then laugh at how stupid we are. You should try it. Go practice in a mirror and come back, I will wait.

This was one of the recips that is in the group. I thought she was kinda cute and named her Beatrice. She looks too young to me to be a mother, but you know that teenage pregnancy is on a rise in cattle.

You won't believe who came out and helped me check heats!

It's Mr. Dragon, or is it Mrs. Dragon? I am too afraid to look, as he/she can be quite cranky. Regardless of gender, Dragon was quite the helper the other day.

Roast Beef anyone? Haha, I couldn't resist.

Any guesses on what it is that Dragon found here? It is something that I really like to find.

Here how about we take a look from another angle.

It is a new baby. This is my favorite part of the day. I get up and first thing go out to the calving pasture and check to see if the stork dropped of any deliveries.

Here is his close up. This little fella is not very old, not more than 2 hours.
We start flushing cows at 7 in the morning, so that means about a 6:30 penning time. So I should have probably been in bed yesterday to get up on time. I will admit, the snooze button and I are very close friends.
I will try to get some more pictures of us actually flushing the cows tomorrow. But if the flush goes bad, we will all probably be in a bad mood tomorrow and I may not feel like blogging.

Stay tuned!

P.S. I noticed that we have gotten a few new followers. To those newbies I would like to say welcome to our blog, where everyone else already knows how lame we are but seem to stick around anyway. And for that, we thank you!


  1. Well first and foremost, I just love the fact that you throw in a link to educate everyone. Way to Go Luke!

    Also, I just love the fact that you broke this whole process down...what a GREAT way to educate everyone. I could use this for my students someday...You actually even educated myself a little bit...I tried the wasn't the best but I will work on it and get back to you.

  2. Oh my gosh...totally forgot. I love that you took my advice and took Ronald McDonald or Dragon Fly...Mr. Dragon, as you refer to him as out to work cattle.

    Great Idea! He/She seemed really worked up a sweat. And such a precious picture of the new baby...We should just take a weekend get-a-way to your ranch (we'll call it a mini-vacation).

    We have Tessi (the hoss) and Tucker (the punk) that could come help round up the lovely ladies. Tucker would probably have more fun with Beans and Buttons.

  3. I just love reading the blogs. They always seem to put a smile on my face. The both of you may not think you have a very excited lifestyle but you do. Living in heaven everyday, even though it is work, for the most part, I would take your lifestyle over the busy, traffic stacking, boring business world job any day. Thank you again for the insight. I will keep my head up. Best of luck on the flush tomorrow!!! I know that y'all with have great luck. May you have a very good calving season, no problems, and great Momma Cows. I know of two heifers that came from V8 breed and they are amazing. Look forward to reading about Mr./Mrs. Dragon's adventure and learning experience tomorrow....

  4. Nothing cuter than a newborn calf!

  5. I'm ashamed to admit it but some years back before my astute cattle friends (namely Sue) filled me in on the ABC's of modern ranching birds-n-bees, I used to pass the V8 pasture at 442 & community center road and wonder dumfoundedly how those very average looking pasture cows would each have the most beautiful purebred Brahman babies. I'm not kidding, it was the stuff of dinner conversations. Though I didn't know about the paint trick - pretty clever. (Just so you know, I originally wrote what I thought was a very clever comment about using the paint system on teenagers but then deleted it in the interest of not being too tacky on your blog - LOL!)

  6. This is the most educational blog you've written yet; I mean I had no idea teen pregnancies were on the rise in bovine. Poor Beatrice!! I think you have a Mr. Dragon, BTW...just a hunch. Oh, and I'm glad you gave your cows a pep talk, now we all know you and Catherine talk to your cows and cats! LOL

  7. Lucas! Once again an awesome post! Love Love Love the way you explained the whole process of flushing, heat etc.. I think I finally understand. Now can you explain to me why I have 5 children?!?!
    About pee pee'd my pants when i saw the that Mr/Mrs. Dragon was on the watch! I totally think he/she should be named either Dora or Diego Dragon! Just fits! Now we need a Hayfield update and you also need to write about your other snake experience! Love ya mean it!

  8. A tree growing on the cow....awesome!

    "you heard it here first." my favorite line by far.

  9. Luke,
    You saved my Monday.... that random dragon picture made me laugh after the meeting I just got out of. Thanks ole' pal!
    PS- You can just call it a shim?

  10. I love Storks. They delive the cutest packages. I agree with your sister. I like Dora/Deigo Dragon.

    Another fantastic post, Midder Neumayr