Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On Medical Advice

We are finishing a young steer. His previous owners named him Prince Charming, and he does have a high opinion of himself. He recently became such a bother to Mary's horse, Wakiya, that we separated them. This happened about 3 weeks ago, and is akin to weaning him again. He has been walking the fence line, where he can see her across the property, but not get to her, bawling and carrying on as if...well, I don't know what would be traumatic enough. Suffice it to say, it started as humorous, but became something else.

I worry. I worry about some things that are important, and some that are not. In this case, I was worried that Charming's inability to separate from Wakiya would translate into stress that would cause adrenaline to taint his meat. His date with destiny, aka, truck ride to freezer camp, aka, butchering date, is in mid-December. If he continued this until then, would he be tough and tasteless? (Betcha didn't know that could happen!) I talked to a few folks; friends, the butcher, and, then, the vet.

Our vet is terrific about being available for questions. We can call whenever we need information, and he is always cheerful and helpful about giving it. He has even started taking text questions. Sometimes we receive answers via text; this time, however, it was important enough to call me back.

"No," he said, "The meat won't be affected. But three weeks of this is excessive." And he suggested a medicine.

Yes, you do see there what you think you see there. NO, the medicine is not for us humans. The directions are, "Put some in his his feed. It'll mellow him out and quiet him down." (I feed grass and hay when we have a steer, until the last 2-3 months, when I add enough grain to make my grass-feeding-friends think I'm silly, and just enough that my grain-feeding-friends think its not enough to do anything. Yeah, I've only ever really grown one steer, but he tasted wonderful, and I hope this feeding plan will work again.)

So, into the bucket of grain...

Yep, that's my claw-like hand there. I wasn't sure of the amount necessary at that point, (the message with quantity came after the photo was taken) so I actually put 2 cans into the grain.

I took the bucket out to Charming. He was bellowing and calling for his feed, which was all of 15 minutes late at this point. (One thing I've noticed about ruminants is that, if their feed is even 10 minutes late, they believe they will never see feed again, and act accordingly.) I put the bucket on the ground, and he attacked it.

Until he tasted the beer.

He spat the feed back into the bucket. Yes, you read that correctly. An animal who, only minutes before, had come to the realization that he would NEVER EAT AGAIN, and spat the proferred food into the bucket.

--sigh-- Did we have a Baptist steer?

As you can see, he tucked into his hay pile, leaving the bucket untouched. I walked away, hoping that he would go back to the bucket. Did he?

About 20 minutes later, Farmer John arrived home from work. I asked him if he had seen the steer. "Yes," he said, "It's odd, though. He's lying down, eating his hay. I've never seen that before." I explained what had happened that afternoon, and we both got a good belly laugh over the story.

Yep, he's definitely mellower. And quieter. So we'll be following Dr. Bill's instructions; 1-2 cans per day, in his feed. If the Japanese can do, why not us Midwesterners?

1 comment:

Kathleen Scott said...

Two cans of beer are required for the birth of a calf. One mixed with a 5 gallon pail of warm water for the cow, and the other for the assistant (ME!)