When one is affiliated with ranch or farm operations, loss of livestock is not uncommon. Each year, without exception, we have something die from a natural cause. It would seem after a lifetime in the business, one could just shrug the bereavement.
Instead, we always feel so depressed with the mood often continuing for days. If a person is going to have animals, all of them are going to die at some point. Birthing time frequently has more deceased, because there are so many “things that can go wrong.”
Yet, life continues to be forever fragile, despite every precaution that can be taken.
Fatality can come at any spit second from accident, disease or the least suspected health issue. The more productive an individual is, the longer the life in an agricultural operation. A cow that has a calf every year remains in a herd sometimes until 15 or 16 years of age. However, if she is past 12, her metabolism doesn’t function like it used to.
Consequently, chances of continued profligacy go down, but one always wants and expects another baby. That greediness is often a downfall, because we’ve lost numerous old cows that became thin, crippled, incapacitated or didn’t have the strength for another birth. We beat our brow for not having sold her instead of trying for that one last time.
Likewise has been the situation with our favorite mares. Interestingly, perhaps even more so in equine than bovine, we’ve found that certain lines have considerable more longevity than others. Some horses quit producing before they’re 20, yet we’ve had mares that raised foals at age 25. Risk of death increases with every additional foal.
Almost every conceivable accident has occurred over time including choking, leg fractures, body punctures, hanging, severe cuts, broken trailer floor boards and more each culminating in lifelessness of livestock.
As sad as each of those losses, even more depressing is demise of a young colt that optimistically promises to be “the best horse that ever lived.” Certainly, that was the case when a gorgeous weanling Pinto stallion was brought to the headquarters and separated from his nearby dam for weanling, as recommended by animal behavior experts.
Mare and foal instinct prevailed. Somehow, the big baby reached through a steel fence to nurse his consenting momma. He evidently became excited, got caught, pulled back; apparently broke his neck and fell to the ground dead, only to be found hours later.
How it could happen is beyond the greatest imagination. One couldn’t describe it as a “natural death,” but rather a “very weird mortality.” Misery is horrible, but there’s nothing we can do about it now, except pout and never attempt to wean anything in that environment again.
Our only consolation comes in Hebrews 9:18: “Even the first plan required a death to set it in motion. Everything hinges on a death.”