The man who rolls up his sleeves seldom loses his shirt.

— Thomas Cowan

A friend of ours informed me that he had 46 escaped recently weaned calves on the loose. He had ran them through the chute and vaccinated and banded  the bulls the weekend before. He had turned them out into a two and a half acre lot and put out hay and was feeding them some grain when they escaped early this morning. He thought that possibly some dogs had gotten into them in the night and started the breakout. All 46 had blown through a five barb wire gate taking it a good distance into the next field.

I arrived about 1:00 PM and we started looking for them. Shortly we found them hiding in the timber not far from where they had escaped. We started out just trying to let the calves get used to us being there by standing around where they could see us. The owner decided he would go around to the other side of the group and open a gate, and this started the bunch off in a runaway. They went through smooth electric fences (not turned on) like they weren’t even there. In short order I was down to tracking them in hopes of just seeing them again. To make matters worse it had started to snow, and at times it was hard to see 100 yards ahead.

We followed them over much of the owner’s place then on to a rented place adjoining his. I was standing watching the calves from 150 yards away, leaning against a tree when a loud boom set them into a frenzy. They exploded in three directions. The majority of the group came running towards me and stopped within 30 yards, looked me over turned and ran down the hill, through another electric fence and across the creek.

By this time it was snowing so hard I couldn’t get a good track on them to know which direction they had gone. Both the owner and I were about walked out and covered with snow and decided to go on back to the house and come back the next day when we could track them easily in the snow. On the way across the field I found new evidence of the calves and when we got to the corner we saw them all standing looking at us.

They exploded again going through a 5 barb fence and into the trees. I took right in after them because it was easy to track them through the timber. I made a big half circle through the timber and came out to see the owner, who had walked up to open another gate just west of the house. I told him that the calves had already passed through, and he saw the broken electric fence the calves had left. About then his wife called on the cell phone and said a lot of the calves were back in the two and a half acre lot from where this had all started! We were only four short, which he ended up getting easily back with the group, two that evening and the last two the next morning.

I suggested that he go up and put out some feed and see if they would come into the corral, which they did. We fixed the gate back, and left the calves in the corral through the next day. I recommended he drive them out the next morning and around the small pasture then back into the corral then put out the morning feed. It now seems they have settled down and are eating and staying in the small pasture.

I’m not exactly sure of what we did right to get them all home, but we both learned a lot from this roundup. This is not the first time I have had to track cattle and, not even seeing them, they end up exactly where we wanted them.

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