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Happy Trails with Dawni O'Bryan: Weaning the Babies


By Dawni O'Bryan

November 15, 2023

In the ranching world, it is a busy time of weaning calves off of the cows and colts off of the mares. For the tender-hearted animal lover, it can be a painful experience to witness. These babies love their mamas and don’t want to be separated to live the rest of their lives on solid food. The baby calves will literally bawl all night long, much to the dismay of the rancher that happens to have his bedroom window within an earshot distance.

One time, while traveling with horses, we decided to spend the night at a sale barn in Mitchell, SD. Horse people are always on the lookout for a good place to stop for the night, as pens, water availability, and safety of the horses is paramount. The pens were great and when we laid our head down on the pillow in our trailer, we realized some rancher had just brought all of his babies into the sale barn for weaning and sale the next day. It was utterly miserable and not an ounce of sleep was had. Now, granted, some of the mamas are glad to see the youngsters go. The mamas might be getting thinner and realize it was much easier to feed a 100 pound baby over a 600 pound baby.

The 7X quarter circle Ranch weans calves and colts by letting the pair exist side by side, but on different sides of the fence (fence-line weaning). It seems to be easier and less stressful on the baby and the mama. However, to do this method of weaning, one had better have good fences. We did have a mare one year that sauntered right up next to the fence to allow her baby to nurse through the fence. We had to go with plan B. Eventually, the pair learns that this is a necessary and essential stage of life and both move on.

Dodge City Barrel Bash was November 3-5 at the West Bank Expo Center. There were 706 entries in the open, senior, youth, peewee, and other sidepot jackpots and the event paid out $24,603 in prize money. On Friday, Roree Wilbanks of Las Animas won the 3rd Division with a time of 16.056 seconds and $284. Karisa Brookshire of Lamar was 4th 16.094 seconds and $112. In the 4th Division Brookshire won 2nd and Julie Dorenkamp of Lamar was 4th. On Saturday, Division 2 was won by Lana Brown of Eads- 15.625 seconds and $705, Division 3 was won by Lindsey Cade of Hartman- 16.119 seconds and $507. In Division 4, Dorenkamp was 2nd-16.651 seconds and $337. On Sunday, Cade was second in the 2D-15.706 seconds and $602, Dorenkamp was 5th in the 3D-16.234 seconds and $102, and Tracy Housholder of Syracuse was 5th in the 4D-16.829 seconds and $83. Housholder placed 1st in the 2D, 3rd in the 2D, and 3rd in the 2D each day in the Senior sidepot. Dwana Salisbury of Lamar was 3rd in the 1D on Saturday of the Senior sidepot. Tori Hawks of Wiley was Target Time winner with times of 16.474 seconds and 16.459 seconds on her two runs. I would say that is pretty consistent. Hawks won a Drinking Post Waterer for horses as her grand prize.

The fundraiser barrel race “Race for Ronnie” was held on November 12 at the Painted Skull Arena in Calhan. There was $1000 added money and all proceeds went to the Buum Family to memorialize their daughter. This family lost their little girl, Ronnie Kay, at the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association Finals in Montrose in September when she did not wake up from a routine nap. The father, Brady Buum, is a steer wrestler in both the amateur and professional circuits. It was nice to see that he placed fourth in Casper, WY in the steer wrestling with a time of 4.6 seconds and $136. Hadley Jackson of La Junta took top honors in the steer wrestling there with a time of 4.0 seconds and $545.

Fenceline-weaned calves have decreased signs of stress, spent less time bawling and walking; and more time eating and lying down. As Thanksgiving approaches, I better start working on a good fence between me and the pumpkin pie.

Happy Trails.