Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bringing Home T-bone

Advisory:  There are several pictures of a bloodless castration technique.  They are not graphic, but I prefer to warn those who might find them startling.  

Yesterday we drove a little over three hours to the Atlanta-area Belle Fourche breeding operation run by Gabriella Nanci.  We have been corresponding with her for several months about a young bull that she was willing to sell as a steer.  Since we are 2 years and 9 months away from being able to eat our own Zephyr Hill-raised, grass-fed beef (assuming Sara has a bull calf after she is bred), we were ready to "import" some beef.

Here is T-bone, just after being moved onto our trailer almost single-handedly by Gabriella, with just a little push from the rear by Herb and me at the very end.  It was a very neat demonstration of how to handle an animal that is not halter broken and load him on a trailer without upsetting him.  It was also a nice demonstration of the calm Dexter temperament from a little guy who was having a lot of new experiences in one day: being haltered, separated from mama, and being put on a trailer--not to mention what was to come later.
Here is mama Nadia watching her little guy leave.  When I asked about T-bone's breeding out of curiosity, we discovered that he is actually Siobhan's cousin!  Do cows have cousins?  I think so, because Siobhan's daddy, Hillview Redwing, is the brother of T-bone's father--and in human genealogy, that makes them cousins!
Here Gabriella demonstrates to Herb the California bander, the bloodless castrator she uses.

If you feel squeamish about the subject of castration, you may want to skip the next three pictures.  It is, however, a necessary operation in beef-raising.  Although leaving an animal "intact" until at least five months (closer to nine in T-bone's case, since he is small for his age) allows the testosterone to stimulate muscle growth (and meat is muscle), it is obvious that even young bulls cannot run with cows and heifers.

Gabriella, as a conscientious breeder, keeps only the best bulls for breeding, and T-bone is not breeding quality.  So for the good of the breed, for our own management on a small farm, and for the peace of our other animals, T-bone has to be castrated.
Here is the "target area."
Here is Herb applying the band, similar to a hard-to-stretch tourniquet.

Amazingly, T-bone stood quite still most of the time that Herb worked on him.  It's a lot trickier than it looks, necessitating getting the band around the scrotum and back, fitting it into a very tiny slit and pulling it tight.
Here is the California band in place.  I'm sure it's not pain-free, but it is certainly bloodless.  Gabriella gave T-bone a preventive tetanus shot when it was all done.  It will take several weeks for the operation to be finished and for T-bone to be a steer.

We gave him some hay and headed home.  He travelled really well, adding one more experience to his big day of firsts.
When we drove into the Back Pasture,  here came the Welcome Wagon.
Brandy, as the self-elected queen of livestock, made first contact.
That's a pretty brave little calf to come meet such a big horse!
Another first, getting down off a ramp.  Some animals freak out over a ramp, but T-bone took it in stride.
T-bone looks at his new surroundings.
Sara checks T-bone out while Siobhan looks on.  They're the same age (both born last November), and she finally has someone to play with--if she's not too grown up.  Time will tell . . .
Of course, Angel and Brandy felt that a newcomer in the pasture was a reason to gallop around.  Sara and Siobhan just concentrated on following him.
T-bone just wanted a drink, so he headed for the pond, and everyone finally let him go off by himself.  I'm pretty sure that's just what he wanted!  After all:
First time away from mama
First time haltered
First time on a trailer
First shot
First time to travel
First time to hop off a trailer
Four new animals staring at you as you climb down, all of them bigger than you
First time being chased by a horse . . .
Who wouldn't need a drink?


  1. Ouu, T-bone looks so yummy: ,-)

  2. Charis was so funny when Didi told her about the calf named T-bone and that we were going to eat him. She said, "Naaah! You can't eat him!" Didi said yes, we were going to, and we are going to eat the pigs, too. She exclaimed, "Naaah! You can't eat your ANIMALS!" :D


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