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Working Ranck - June/July 2017

until closer to calving. Ultrasounding also sexes calves and identifi es any twins. “This year our vet came up with the idea of putting a little blue tag in the ear of cows expecting twins,” Deb says, “which is really nice to have that reminder to look for two calves.” “Sometimes twins aren’t so good,” Craig adds, “ but it’s nice to have extra calves. We graft them onto other cows. Cows and ewes mother very differently. It’s pretty amazing to watch 200 lambs playing, hear an ewe blat, and her two lambs come to her immediately. My granddad always said, ‘Anybody in the cow business should raise sheep fi rst’.” The U.S sheep population rose from 7 million in the early 1800s to peak at 56 million head in 1945. With the invention of synthetic fi bers, the sheep industry switched emphasis from wool production to meat production, and numbers declined to 5 million sheep as of January 2017. This decrease is reaching the critical number of sheep needed to keep wool warehouses, shearing crews and meat then the remaining sheep. Ewes are lambed through the barn as there is little natural shelter, and cows also calve through sheds for ease of birth records for registration. “Two months in the spring,” Craig says, “the weather makes me nervous. Old timers say you can have a blizzard until Mothers’ Day. North of Belle Fourche, it’s fl at. When we moved here, and fi rst started putting those old commercial cows through the shed, oh man, you talk about a bunch of hot cows. They wanted to be out hiding their calves. The registered cows’ dispositions are much quieter and they are easier to handle.” By ultrasounding cows, the Kukuchkas verify calving dates — allowing later cows to stay on pasture ABOVE Ashton Kukuchka helps her daughter Ellie mount up. LEFT Chase Kukuchka weighs a calf in the calving barn as his daughter Ellie and mom Deb look on. Moos and Ewes 86 I WORKING RANCH I JUNE / JULY 2017


Working Ranck - June/July 2017
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