Busyness continues for Flint Hills cattlemen.
While there’s never a shortage of work for farmers and ranchers, going to grass time is certainly one of the busiest.
Everybody who has cattle in their operations has been preparing and moving cattle from dry lot feeding to pasture grazing. But it’s a lot more than just opening the gate to luscious green grass.
The most important thing is that there’s enough grass for the cattle to graze. With short rainfall in most locales, nearly all grasslands are slower in growth than desired.
Mother Nature is the guiding determinant of the weather so when it rains, and the sun shines grass always grows. While there’s a tinge of green, it’s not sufficient for hungry cattle.
Just as big concern now is the water supply. Some ponds are dry, and others don’t have enough water to last but a few days. Wet weather waterholes are no compensation because there’s not been wet weather in most areas.
Some pastures have natural springs developed for water sources and others have good wells to supply the essential nutrients. Those require additional management almost daily to ensure proper operation.
Hauling water to cattle on grasslands is a major ordeal although there are already cattlemen preparing to do just that. It’s an expensive never-ending task, requiring an ample available water source, hauling equipment, and plenty of watering tanks.
Cattle must never be without water in the tank, or the most even unimaginable problems can occur.
Before the gate is opened, cattle require lots of special care, usually demanding a major working crew. They are typically sorted by gender, weight, sometimes color and other specific requirements of their owner.
Bulls are castrated and horned cattle have the protrusions removed or tipped. With today’s modern pharmaceutical lists, most of the cattle will receive several vaccinations whether necessary or not.
A dewormer is given to the cattle and there are pesticide applications to help control flies and other biting insects.
When it’s time to go, cattle are either hauled by truck or driven by horseback or mechanical cart to the pastures.
Cattlemen must keep a watchful eye on their herds for weeks ahead praying for grass and water until roundup time.
Reminded of Psalm 10: “Sing to God thanksgiving for turning hills green with grass feeding cattle.”