The family that works cattle together…

by David

…well gets dirty together if nothing else.  Pregnancy checking is a kind of tense moment in the year.  Not only do you hope for a high rate of pregnancy…but for matings you’ve invested in embryo transplants and artificial insemination.

Thistle Hill Cows

This year we’re checking a total of 32 cows…a mix of regular Devon plus our pure traditional English Devon.  The wranglers are grandson Church, his Dad Curt and his uncle Church. 

First mamas and calves are called in and then sorted in separate pens.  The young will get permanent tags and tattoos and vaccinations.  Some of the bulls that don’t meet Thistle Hill standards are also converted to steers.

Carolyn

At the head gate is daughter Carolyn.  It’s a job for quick reflexes and cows develop little stutter steps to try to out-smart the gatekeeper.  But Carolyn has a cool eye and steady hand…probably because of her part time gig as a cancer surgeon at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas.

Veterinarian Tom Massey & Church

The actual examinations are done by our longtime veterinarian Tom Massie of Rose Hill Veterinary Service. He not only can confirm the pregnancy but come very close to predicting the birth date.  The word you don’t want to hear is “open”!

He not only can confirm the pregnancy but come very close to predicting the birth date.  The word you don’t want to hear is “open”!

So how did we do?

Of 32 cows…we have 29 pregnant.  That’s 90%…a little better than the national average.

One surprise…we have two sets of twins coming.  First time for that in a number of years!

On artificial insemination…

Church himself was successful on five of nine.  That was only his second attempt and so a phenomenal result.  Included in the five was a much-hoped for Champson pregnancy…and a couple of English Tilbrook Sunset pregnancies. He also hit on two Rotokawa bulls: 982 and 243.

As for embryo transplants…Dr. Massey did very well hitting on five of six!

All in all half the pregnancies including the twins were in our pure traditional All in all half the pregnancies including the twins were in our pure traditional English genetics herd.  But we also strengthened our American Devon group…including a find in our cryogenic tank that Church came up with…four embryos from what I like to call our foundation cow, 48, sired by Lakotas P60 Buckeye.  That was a flush from ten years ago at least!

Finally, thanks to embryos, we’re happy to have two Rotokawa calves to look forward to again!

In all I think it was a grand finale for Church…who soon leaves for veterinary school at Cornell University in New York.  He’s done a terrific job as the Thistle Hill ramrod the past couple of years…all the while finishing up his masters degree.

I’m one proud grandpa!!

David