Mange and the Cattle Dipping Program

an article from Big Hill Country

At the turn of the century mange in cattle was a serious problem in the eastern and southern parts of the Province where several large ranches were established. Some ranchers would dip their cattle while others would not, consequently mange was always present. So a program of compulsory dipping throughout the whole Province was made law in 1904-06. This plan was instigated by the Federal Government and was to be carried out for two years in succession which would rid the range of mange once and for all. 


Mange never occurred in the area between the Bow and Elbow Rivers but nevertheless, all the cattle had to be dipped. 

A dipping tank was constructed in 1904 to government specifications on the SE 14 12-25-5-5 which at that time had been reserved by the government for its water potential. 

The tank was made of cement. Water was pumped in by hand and heated by a series of pipes which were connected to a boiler of sorts that was heated by a wood fire. 

The first ten feet had about four inches of water in it which was to give the animal a little bit of confidence, then there was a sheer drop where complete immersion took place. 

After swimming a distance of about twenty feet or so, the cattle climbed out on a ramp that was long enough to allow most of the water to drain back into the tank. 

Corrals were built at both ends of the tank to provide holding pens so that a continuous flow of cattle would be going through the tank. 

At times there was trouble when a big old cow would get stuck and had to be hauled out by the cowboys with ropes and horses, or perhaps an ornery two-year-old heifer decided to turn back after getting halfway across. 

The solution this dip was made up of had to be inspected and tested for strength and temperature quite often. This was done by a government man who was there at all times. 

A story prevails that after about a week’s work, on the last day of dipping, the tank sprung a leak (unknown to the inspector) and it was almost impossible to keep enough water in for the cattle to immerse. Being the last day, one of the quick-thinking cowboys decided to hold a party in the inspector’s tent. A couple of bottles of liquor were acquired and that took care of all the government regulations, and the inspector. 

Did you like this story about ranching and cowboys? Here are a couple of earlier articles:

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