There is a lot to be done when it comes to cattle this time of year.
“It might be getting cattle in for preconditioning spring shots, it could be marking and branding spring calves, it could be thinking about shipping fall yearlings or receiving spring yearlings for summer pastures,” said Larry Forero, farm advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension.
But instead of ranch hands all working together in the same area, sometimes doing the same jobs, the UC Cooperative Extension is recommending each ranch hand be responsible for one job and should keep everything as clean as possible to minimize the risk of getting or sharing the coronavirus.
“If that squeeze chute operator is doing the ear-tagging and giving the shots, they need to maintain control of that equipment and make sure that it is wiped down with some kind of disinfectant,” Forero said.
Forero says there’s a danger with that, too. Live vaccines will be rendered inactive if disinfected, so workers need to be careful.
“(Wipe) down the handle, but keep it away from the needle and keep it away from the syringe tops,” he advised.
Rick Roberti runs a cattle ranch north of Truckee. He says there are two types of ranches. His, which uses four or five people and very little cooperative work, and the other kind, that are more hands-on with the animals. He says the other kind will struggle with social distancing.
“Some of the others who are more Western, who use horses and rope the cattle, it is more of a social event,” Roberti said. “Sometimes they get more people there than they have cattle and it’s kind of a party and it's something they enjoy doing. Those people it’s gonna affect.”
He says the recommendations make sense.
“We’re so used to doing this in our certain ways and getting the job done without someone saying hey you’re too close or you didn’t clean that,” he said. “It’ll probably revert back to hey, let’s just get the job done. You might need someone that's kind of in control saying let’s do this the right way instead of the way we’ve always done it.”
The cooperative extension recommends ranches be aware of their workers' social habits. It also says workers would be safer if they don’t eat meals together.The coronavirus has already taken a toll on the cattle industry. A study commissioned by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association estimates losses this year from the COVID-19 pandemic at $13.6 billion.
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.