Being the huge city folks that we are, I was so excited to go and see a branding! One of the nurses I met at work, Carolyn, was nice enough to invite Joe and I over to witness the blessed event.
Carolyn and her husband have a ranch about 40 miles out of town. They have about 160 "head of cattle". I learned you don't say-160 cows. Also a ranch is where they have animals, a farm is where the grow crops. More educational material to follow.
We managed to find the place easily. We arrived to a very nice house on a big chunk of land. Carolyn came out to greet us. We met several neighbors who were over to help with the days activities! Carolyn watched Jordy, Joe and I headed out to see the action.
First they gather all the calfs into a small containment area. Then these guys pushed them through this gated area to this thing that looked like a toaster (I can't remember what it was called).
When the calf gets to the toaster, he/she tries to run through it to the other side to his waiting mother. But just as his head starts to emerge from the toaster, his neck is scissored between the gates, he is stuck. His entire body is wedged in- just like a piece of bread in a toaster.
Then several things happen very quickly- This guy brands them. They heat up a brand and hold it to their left shoulder. This is necessary so people don't steal the calfs, which can sell for 600-700 a piece! Each ranch has their own brand, and they put it in different places. To sell a calf they undergo a brand check to make sure you in fact are the owner.
The brand is so hot, it causes the hair to burst into flames when it touches the calf!
The next thing that happens while the calf is in the toaster is he gets immunizations. The immunizations are in a gun type thing and happen very quickly. He gets shot in the neck area. At this same time the calf also gets a tag on his ear that prevents flys from bothering him.
While all this is going on the very worst thing happens to the poor little boy cows...they get castrated. This was the most upsetting part of the whole thing for Joe!
While being branded, immunized, and tagged, the boy calfs hind leg is pulled back and his scrotum is cut open. Then they grab their testicles and pull and cut them out. The balls go into the ball bucket (pictured below). The cow gets a spray of antiseptic to the area. Sometimes the testicles are cooked and eaten- they are deep fried and known as Rocky Mountain Oysters. They allegedly tasted like chicken nuggets.