About 10 years ago my son came in from the calving barn during a fiercely cold, windy winter day. He was dejected at what Old Man Winter was throwing at us during our calving, losing yet another set of ears on a tender newborn, who, even though born in the barn, still bore the crispness of frozen ears. He implored me to try to think up something to sew that would cover the ears to spare the pain for the calves, the esthetics in the bull pen and show ring and the deductions at the auction mart.
We had tried many ideas: towel drying — Momma licked them wet again; duct tape — (try to get that off) plus being unable for air to circulate, most times the ear was still wet when it was removed; other ear covers — minutes later they were in the straw.
So I set out to design the most foolproof ear protection ever. It had to be washable, breathable, affordable and it had to work.
After a few trial and errors, the COZY CAP was born! I modified the sizes, deleted unnecessary Velcro strips, added darts to the eyes and finally was satisfied with my creation. Better than that, my son was happy. The calves’ ears were coming out of the cap warm and dry and intact.
The caps are simply sewn using cosy polar fleece material. The idea is to hold the ear snuggly but comfortably against the calf’s head, using his own body heat to warm and dry the ears. The most important point to success is that between each and every use, the cap must be laundered, using a little mild detergent and NO fabric softener. The least irritant scent to the momma, the better! Also, you must rub the cap over the body of the calf before putting it on to get the scent of the calf onto the cap. We find it’s rare the momma even knows it is there if these steps are taken.
Is it 100 per cent effective? If it were, we would be millionaires! All I can tell you is that it is the best solution to the frozen ear dilemma that we have found.
I sold some caps to friends and neighbours over the years and then four years ago my youngest son encouraged me to take my product to Agribition along with our cattle, to display at our stall. A marketer from the Canadian Cattleman Magazine, saw them and asked if I wanted to place an ad in the Cattleman magazine that winter. I was a little apprehensive but decided to give it a whirl. The response was beyond my wildest dreams. I sewed day and night for almost three solid months. I sold caps into all the provinces except New Brunswick and P. E. I., into five states and even some into Scotland (an Agribition visitor was taken with them). The most rewarding outcome is customers calling for reorders, encouraging e-mails and phone calls.
As the business has become almost more than I can handle on my own, I have gone into partnership with my daughter-in-law Cheryl Branvold of Wawota. She and her husband and two young sons, Brett and Carter, own and operate GBT Angus of Wawota, and I and my husband Gerry have Shorthorn cattle under the name of McBeth Shorthorns here at Kisbey. We also own and operate a custom cattle sale barn on our farm, and feed and manage close to 100 head of Angus and Shorthorn bulls during the winter months with their sales here in the spring.
Betty Wyatt writes from Kisbey, Saskatchewan