Phew what a week we had!
We had both our fall roundup at the ranch and our first experience participating in a live auction, which was with the annual Oklahoma Bison Association.
During our fall roundup, we worked over 500 animals and weaned close to 200 calves. This leaves a smaller selection that is currently out on pasture at our secondary location (in the neighboring town) to be worked at a later date.
Working bison is always a fun adventure and it involves a lot of moving parts. This year we re-invented our lots, corrals and got a new chute and squeeze which we are loving and so are our bison! (It is way more comfortable for them than our older system). When we work bison, we are sorting them, weighing them, weaning calves, vaccinating, ear tagging and making notes on any observations whether it is an injury, illness or personality trait. Bison are animals that do not like to be and should not be stressed. A stressed bison is a dangerous bison, both to themselves and to us. So, we have a philosophy that we call “working on bison time.” This reinforces that the bison determine the pace of our work to avoid pushing and pressuring them. We implement some strict procedures to assist in this philosophy:
- No yelling or hollering; loud noises will only increase animal stress
- No cattle flags/whips; we see them used incorrectly in this industry far too often and much to the disrespect of the animal
- Cattle prods; we keep them in case of emergencies but do not use in a typical working situation
All of these are items are used to hurry a process, which as I mentioned previously, will only cause stress to the animal. So, by entering into the working day knowing that we are not going to rush the process, we are going to let it unfold naturally for the comfort of the animal, we are able to work a very large herd of animals without any negative impact on the animals.
This was our first auction to participate in and we learned A LOT! Since we did not know what to expect with our first-time bringing animals, we opted for a small selection of calves that came out of the stock that we just weaned. Our intention with the calves this first year was to see how the process worked and how the animals are moved while using an easier set of animals as opposed to jumping right in with some 1,200 LB+ mature bulls.
We were so happy with the whole process, the group sure did have everything running smoothly from drop off to load out. We didn’t go in with the intention of purchasing any animals….BUT….I fell in love with a couple of young studs and we just had to bring them home to our mommas (for future boyfriends of course). They came from good genetics, a great environment and presented wonderful demeanors - which is a huge plus in my book. So, after a fun weekend with our fellow Oklahoma bison ranchers, we kissed our cutie-pie calves goodbye and loaded up our new additions to head back to our home sweet bison ranch.