The Comprehensive Cowdog Blog Guide To Tagging Calves
April 14, 2012 § 6 Comments
For the uninitiated: We tag our calves. We do this for a few reasons. As we move them out of calving pastures into Spring and Summer pastures we like to know that the calf is paired with its mother, and anyone who has herded
cats calves knows that this is important. We tag them with their mother’s tag number, and left ear for heifer calves, right ear for steer calves. This helps in the sorting alleys as we vaccinate, brand, and ultimately ship our calves.
As with any new hobby, it is important to regard your equipment for optimum performance.
Read on to learn more about the fascinating hobby of tagging calves!
Too many times, people will assume that your run of the mill gear will work for a new, and what should be exciting hobby. Not so. To become a truly elite calf tagger, some rudimentary, and specialized equipment is needed.
- A modified shepherd’s crook, or sheep hook. Found at most ranch/farm supply stores, you can pick up one of these aluminum bad boys for around $40. With a quick modification to the crook–using a regular screw in garage/bicycle hook–you now have a weapon in order to do battle with calves. Obi-Wan Kenobi would have kicked Darth Vader’s ass if he would have used this tool instead of a light saber. Seriously.
- Tagger/tags. (It’s why this sport is called Calf Tagging, Silly).
- Marker: To write numbers. And leak all over the g#@!amn place putting permanent ink in and on your saddle bags, clothes, mouth, hands, and vehicles. Alien civilizations will spend years excavating human ruins discovering how we lived–but they’ll know immediately the numbers of my calves.
- Cattle prod. For when you have a Momma that isn’t very cooperative with your tagging moves. Generally, you have to dual-wield your
light sabercalf hook and the fiberglass prod. Often results in a “Miss”.
- Muck Boots: The ultimate in calf tagging footwear. Resistant to water, mud, snow, mud, calf poop, mud, cow poop, mud, and all other animal poop. And mud. If you aren’t wearing Muck Boots while tagging calves: You are doing it wrong.
- A fleet of vehicles that ideally are faster than calves. No vehicle too big or too small. It just has to be able to turn instantly 90, 180, and 360 degrees. Being able to jump barbed-wire fences on it’s own is a bonus. If you are named Bo or Luke Duke: You have the perfect vehicle.
YOUR PREY: Calves, Types of.
- The Napper: This calf is generally an easy catch. You can usually sneak up on this calf, and not even use your calf hook to catch it, and snap a tag in its ear. For slow people: This is the preferred type of calf.
- The Sneak: This calf can often be confused with “The Napper”. It will appear to be sleeping, but has one eye open waiting for you to make a move, and often will escape if you have incorrectly identified the calf.
- The Bawler: A calf that acts as if you are doing something so hideous, heinous, and evil that it bawls loud enough to alert the entire herd. Cows without calves have been known to react to this type of calf. If far removed from your vehicle, you may find yourself in a compromising position that involves around 200 pissed off cows. Not recommended for beginning taggers. 9 out of 10 calves have the capacity to be a “Bawler” in some fashion.
- The Exploder: See: The Napper/The Sneak. A combination of the two, but upon nearing the calf, explodes in often times 6 directions at the same time. May include some “Bawler” tendencies. A dangerous, and elusive calf. Results in many misses.
- The Slimer: A fairly newborn calf that is still a bit wet. Many taggers have erroneously thought this was an easy catch, only to grip the tail and end up with foul smelling, slimy, and disgusting hands. Deceptively fast and slippery.
- Calfzilla: A rare calf. But one that should probably just head to a roughstock breeder immediately. Bucks, kicks, snorts, and in rare occasions will charge. Not an extremely hard catch, but putting a tag in its ear can prove to be a challenge.
- The Stealther: Can hide in any type of country. It can hide in dirt. “Stealthers” are nearly always part “Exploder”. Often results in extended time calf checking as you nearly always find their mother–but she has lost the calf, and is 2 counties away grazing. By the time you find it, this calf is often too large, too fast, and too invisible to tag. A coveted calf to actually tag.
- Calfretariat: Usually a small heifer. It is insanely fast, often outrunning motor vehicles. If you duct taped a football to this calf and pointed it the right direction: There is not an NFL defense that could catch it. A single tagger must sometimes trick this calf into running into a corner, or fence for the catch. A very difficult catch.
- Oliver Twistcalf: Generally surrounded by already tagged calves and Momma Cows. It is somewhat of a mystery as to who this calf may belong to, but make no mistake: Each cow near it will react when trying to tag it. See: “Bawlers”
In studying the various types of calves, acquiring the proper equipment: You too can become an elite calf tagger! A picture speaks a thousand words, so in closing I will leave you with the proper athletic technique for catching, and tagging calves.
Enjoy calving season, and out-foxing, running, and tagging those little buggers!