The expression herding cats refers to a situation in which it is nearly impossible to get a group of people or things the same thing or head in the same direction. I witnessed three grown men herding large, hoofed, bellowing cats (otherwise known as calves) this afternoon and it was quite a sight. Men heading one way and calves heading another. Mother cows bellowing for their young and the babies going every way but forward.
My boyfriend, his father and their hired kid were attempting to sort calves and mother cows for transportation to grass in southern Kansas today. The process sound seem complicated but it does have its challenges. The guys are always keeping track of which animals are where- identified by the number on their ear tag- and know what animals they would like going into which pen, which semi and ultimately to which patch of grass.
Cattle are “sent to grass” each spring for about 100 days of grazing. During that time, calves grow, mother calves are impregnated by the bulls and steers add weight. See a herd of cattle grazing on green grass on a warm summer night gives you a new appreciation for the Kansas landscape. The cows love the freedom and ability to graze and the babies enjoy the sunshine and time to play with one another.
Grass owners rent their pasture or grass to cattlemen for an average of 100 days. During that time, the landowners- or a contracted helper- check on the herd daily, makes sure they have an adequate water supply and check the fences to ensure none escape. If one does get lose, they are first on the scene to recover the wandering animal.
I have included a photo of a couple of calves that are headed into the tractor-trailer for the trip south to Dexter. They may not ride in the same trailer and their mother but they will be re-united when they arrive at the grass.