10-17-2011, 11:47 AM
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I agree, it really does depend on where your from and the size of your calves.
I have been to brandings in CA where they sorted off all the cows, put the calves in a small pen, everyone would line up outside the gate of the small pen and one person would go in neck a calf, drag it out the gate and whoever was next in line heeled it. Set up like a team roping. I thought it was weird, but we got about 500 calves done by lunch.
I've seen people not even rope, go in drag a calf out by a hind leg and flat ass them. Or use a calf table. Personally I think this is a sin ;) But everyone does it different.
Here at home we usually brand for about a week, the cows are turned out on a 80,000 acre allotment for calving. If there is a branding trap we use it or set up a open ended trap with panels. Gather, sort off enough cows to make room in the trap(If you rope a cow by accident, you buy the beer!) We might snag and drag for a day, but always with the little guys. Head & heel for a day or so, and always for the big ones. If your header slides a little rope, and your ground crew knows what to do it is very easy to get a big one down, you don't have to wrestle them. By lunch we have several hundred calves done, mother everything back up, the cookhouse brings lunch and we have a few beers. The rosin jaw crew breaks down the trap if we used panels and sets them up in the new spot that afternoon while the cowboy crew heads back to the barn, wrangle and catch horses for the next day.
In the fall we have clean up brandings about a month or two before we ship to get anything we miss or late calves. By then the calves are big and we head and heel them.
But in the end its all about getting the job done in the best way possible and having a little fun while your doing it!