IT'S THE PITTS -- LONG LIVE THE COW

by: Lee Pitts

Some market reports show bred heifers selling for $2,700 and young pairs fetching $3,300. And these are commercial cattle! I remember when a whole Gooseneck load of them wouldn't bring that! These prices are giving cattlemen problems they've never had before, like having to hire an accountant and paying income tax. Next thing you know the wife will want to quit one of her jobs in town!

It certainly makes one pause when preg checking. Say an old crippled cow limps into the squeeze chute, is safe in calf but looks like she could die any minute. Do you keep her and take your chances, or do you pay three grand to replace her? I know what I'd do.

I'm aware that slaughter cows are selling well and may fetch $1,500 but you'll have to double that to replace one. And older cows are experienced, know the ranch, calve easily and have built up immunity to any pathogens on your place. Most cows are done by the time they are eight but what if you could extend that life expectancy by three or four more years? I read about a purebred Angus cow that is still in production at 17 years of age and she looks like a million dollars.

You really don't want to lose a cow like that and should want to keep her alive. Now you can.

A cow's ovaries will outlast her teeth and since cows spend 15 hours a day chewing, teeth become a cow's limiting factor. You may have read stories about false teeth being implanted into Argentinean range cows with good results. But its nothing new. As a kid we used to watch a television show called What's My Line? In the show a panel of four pompous washed up Hollywood stars would try to guess the occupation of a person. In August of 1959 a fellow from Colorado appeared on the show and the panelists were not able to guess his occupation: he sold false teeth to cows!

A bridge of eight stainless steel teeth cost just $15 and extended a cow's life about three years. The guy must have been a poor salesman though because for some reason the idea never caught fire. I think it would now days. The Argentinean cow teeth take 30 seconds to insert with a simple

pair of pliers. Besides the stainless steel teeth there is also a plastic variety and you can go on something called the Internet and see them being made and inserted.

I think this will be the first of a plethora of new geriatric products and devices for bovine senior citizens. Old cows will consume Ensure from troughs with lick wheels and with the combination of dentures and Ensure I'm sure your cows will give you three extra calves and delay the time you have to buy replacements which, if we mess up this market like we always do, will probably be much cheaper.

Just think of the bran extensions, excuse me, I meant brand extensions, for the bovine gray market including Metamucow, bread pudding, Pavarotti CD's, Ben Gay for cows, support hose, prune juice, oxygen, hair tint, Fig Newtons, Old Spice, antacids, heavy woolen sweaters, and those cheap glasses you can buy off the rack at the drugstore for nearsighted old cows. Of course, you'll have to start feeding the cows earlier than usual so they can take advantage of the early bird dinners.

Geriatric care veterinarians will burn skin cancers off bovine faces, perform cow hip replacement operations, flip off cow cataracts, implant hearings aids and write prescriptions for Lipitor for cows. I've seen paraplegic dogs get around thanks to two wheels strapped to their butt so why not cows? It won't be long before insurance salesmen start selling your old cows annuities and life insurance. Of course, it makes just as much sense to keep over-the-hill bulls in service longer too and vets will write Viagra prescriptions for older bulls. But don't worry, anything you buy at the feedstore for senior bovines will get AARC discounts. Better yet, you'll always have the option of buying it cheaper in Canada.

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