I was blessed to participate in a real branding of 300 calves in Montana. I was so impressed by the talent and work ethic of the ranch hands, both men and women. The youngest was a teenaged girl about 14 and the oldest gentlemen was 90. You could tell he was doing this all of his life and had no plans to quit. The way it worked was first, the whole herd, all 300 mamas and their babies were corralled. The entire process was done by cowboys on horses. Then the mother cow was escorted out by a gentle horse, but the baby was not allowed to follow. A cowboy at the gate stood guard so that the baby could not pass. Once all the mothers were out, they stayed very close to the corral and waited to be reunited with her calf. Each calf was then roped by the hind feet and dragged to a spot outside of the corral for branding, vaccines, tagging and males were castrated. Two teams went to work on each calf immediately and each task was performed in unison. The calf was only tied down for about 5 minutes. Then it was released to go find its mother. And with 100% certainty, each baby reconnects with its biological mother without any help from the ranchers. Amazing! In this photo, the mothers inspect this calf to see if it's hers.
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