Tag Archives: calves

Annuals Scheme – Final Analysis

Today marked the last day of my experiment with rotatilling, pneumatic drilling/harrowing, and grazing annuals as part of a pasture improvement scheme.

Grazing comparison data is as follows:

2013-2014 – Paddock 22 – 3218 lbs, Paddock 23 – 1871 lbs  Total:  5089 lbs

2014-2015 – Paddock 22 – 3567 lbs, Paddock 23 – 2007 lbs  Total:  5574 lbs

2015-2016 – Paddock 22 – 2072 lbs, Paddock 23 – 1222 lbs  Total:  3294 lbs

2016-2017 – lost all my records

2017-2018 – Paddock 22 – 1547 lbs, Paddock 23 – 695 lbs    Total: 2242 lbs

As you can imagine, i was shocked at the lack of grazing days provided by the annuals, but this was my first experience.  When i turned them in on the annuals, the cows and calves grazed it all down in four days!  In a few days, i was able to turn them back in for a couple more days grazing to boost that yield just a bit.  However, at this point, the paddocks will take a very long rest.  One thing i did not observe and record in previous years and that is cow condition.  At least for this year, these cows were slick and shiny healthy coming off the annuals, but they were that way going in, too.  So…..

So, in a nutshell, it cost me a total of $1842.12 to plant 18 acres of annuals for grazing.  The purpose of annuals to help rejuvenate the soil microbe community and not necessarily for gain in grazing.  Good thing, because it certainly failed in that department.  However, as i had written before, the goal is to eradicate toxic fescue and build organic matter.  It does look like that has happened at least in short term.  It is very hard to measure long term benefits.   However, from this point, i’m planning to tack the sail and switch to tilling then no-till a permanent ley (grassland).  Whether or not that will work remains to be seen, but i’m keen to find a way to reduce then eliminate any tractor work.  I hope to get that scheme underway and perhaps even completed this week.  This new scheme, although i do plan to till before planting to permanent ley, will provide a side by side comparison of planting annuals first vs planting permanent pasture once and done.  There will be a few spots, too, that won’t be tilled and seeds will be drilled straight into established pasture.

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I drive through the annuals with my Gator to make it easier to set up a polybraid fence through it.
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Grazed part next to ungrazed annuals.  That tall stuff still standing in common ragweed.
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My ground is very poor in most areas and this is all it will grow in a 65 day period of the annuals.

 

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This is along the fence line (see fence on the left).  What a difference in where i tilled and planted vs undisturbed.  The ubiquitous Kansas ragweed (lanceleaf) is still thriving where it is undisturbed.

 

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Those cows didn’t waste any.  They really, really enjoyed eating the succulent annuals and snarfed down the volunteer yellow foxtail.  The stalks are trampled nicely.
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This is a close up of the left behind common ragweed.  That step in post is 36 inches tall.
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A closer look at the Kansas (lanceleaf) ragweed in undisturbed soil.  Same step in post.
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Larger area shown here of what is left of the annuals after grazing.

 

Calving Season Underway!

For the past 15 years or so, we’ve had our calving season start about 18 May through first week of July.  This worked pretty well, but since i have had scour problems the past two seasons, i was adamant about making changes, so i put the bulls in earlier.  Thankfully, despite the earlier and shorter breeding season, most cows got pregnant again.

Official calving season this year for me started 25 April, but already have 16 calves on the ground and up and running!  Weather has been pretty nice until today with temps only reaching 46F and it’s misty rain and mild wind.

Cheers!

tauna

Rodeo Way.

I never thought about this, but it’s true!!!

livehumblyandhavefaith

rodeo


Stands filling up, quickly. The ‘pump up’ music playing. A bronc starts dancing in the chute. Fresh arena dirt and fresh livestock. 

The excitement is felt, seen and heard. An electricity that is circulating throughout the stock, contestants, and spectators. And then, the announcer begins to speak…

He doesn’t begin by giving the statistics of the riders, or rant about the stock contractors, no. The announcer begins with “This is the home of the free and the land of the brave and because of that we want to honor those who give up their freedom so we can enjoy ours. Every Marine, Sailor, Airman, First responder, please stand up.” Some slower than others, stand. Stand in remembrance of their fellow men and women, stand in remembrance of the commitment they made to this country. Stand to be honored. And as each one stands up, the electricity of the building, changes, ever so slightly, as…

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Mild Monday

Another stunningly beautiful weather day here.  Just a touch of frost on the windshields and crunchy grass early this morning.

Woke up about 4am since i’d fallen asleep so early the evening before, but with a horrible headache. photo download 007 Took some Tylenol, fixed some mate, then opened the door to let Thunder in and along with him a bird flew in!  Weird.  So a little early morning excitement – Allen and i finally coaxed it out by turning off all the lights in the house and turning on the porch light.  Birds are not like bats, they have to see where they are going.

Almost out!
Almost out!

My main project for today was to load up those little calves i talked about earlier and the thin bull and take them to market.  Now we don’t have those baby calf feeding chores which frees up about 45 minutes a day! Not to mention just the inconvenience of being tied to this task twice a day. Most of that time is taken up with preparing the bottles and feeding the bottle calves.   There is also no more feed costs.

Next big project was to prepare another 16 foot cattle panel into a circle which is what we use in south Missouri for decorative and useful end posts for fence.  Once these are filled with rocks (and there are plenty of those on my farm there!) then they are set to go.  Beautiful and functional at once.  It is hard work to fill up them up, however.

photo download 001Dallas put the second coat of linseed oil/mineral spirits on his lawn tractor trailer yesterday and took out a couple bales of hay for my cows up north.  He also moved several more bales from the neighbour’s farm.  We bought the rest of his hay bales just recently and while it’s dry, we are moving them off his farm as quickly as possible.

This afternoon and early evening will be spent at the Forage Systems Research Center‘s 50th anniversary with guest speaker, Dr Fred Martz, professor emeritus and former FSRC superintendent.  It’ll be nice getting to visit with friends we haven’t seen for some time.

Cheers!

tauna

Blessed with Fine Weather!

We had a lovely couple inches of rain a couple weeks ago which settled the dust after about 7 weeks of nuthin’!  It was dry – and still is – but with warm weather, the grass actually has been squeaking out a bit of growth before the last of this nearly perfect weather gives way to the bitter iciness of winter.

So, we have not had to turn the cows and calves on to winter stockpile yet – we have fed a few bales of hay to stretch the stay on some of the paddocks simply for convenience.  Plus it’s dry enough to set out bales with the pickup, so it’s a nice time to feed hay.  Once the snow is blowing and it’s cold, snowy, icy, or slick, i would rather just leapfrog another stretch of polywire on the stockpile and let the cows go to grazing.

This is the perfect time to get stock tanks, pump houses, etc winterized.  Today, I removed my two marine-type batteries from the solar powered water pump.  Drained the pump, pressure tank, intake and out pipes as well as 4000 feet of 1 1/2 inch HDPE water pipe (not as hard as it sounds, just undo the end and it gravity drains itself), and removed the bottom screw from the filter from the pond to drain it.  Unplugged and shut off the pump, turned the solar panels off, shut down the door to my portable solar house and latched it, loaded the marine-type batteries (yeah, they are heavy  – ’bout 60 lbs a piece!) into the back of my Gator and it is all set for winter.  I store the charged batteries in our basement – don’t want them to drain and freeze – they cost about $140 each.

Allen and Dallas are replacing a half a quarter mile of perimeter barbed wire fence on my Buckman 80.  It was just getting too worn out to keep cows in with any peace of mind.  They set posts and stretched wire today and yesterday.  Rick helped yesterday.  Such a busy week, they hope to finish up on Monday.  Once the end posts settle a couple days, then they’ll stretch the wire.  I can help put on the clips.  Why don’t i help?  Honestly, i’m really not strong enough to do much except put on the clips.  If anything ever happens to my guys, I’ll have to hire my perimeter fencing done.

My to-do list today:

Go to my farm – It takes an hour and 10 minutes roundtrip, so a good part of the time is spent in traveling.  Once there, i moved a water tank, replaced an anchor and brace post on hi-tensile fence, pulled the fiberglass line posts and moved them.  I’m actually moving about 650 feet of existing 2-strand hi-tensile wire over a bit.  It just wasn’t working where i had built it four years ago.

Quick trip to Brookfield to buy nappies for Allen’s Aunt June – she is attending a baby shower saturday morning to which i’ll take her.  At 96, her eyesight and motor coordination isn’t what is used to be and she no longer drives.  Last week, i spent a few hours scrubbing her frig and freezer since it was not working properly and all the food had gone — well, totally nasty.  I discovered that the back of the freezer (inside) was frozen solid, so hoped that cleaning, vacuuming underneath and behind, as well as completely defrosting would fix the problem.  Thankfully it did.  I found a wooden bar to place beneath the front of the unit since it was leaning so far forward.  Maybe the doors were not getting shut completely to cause it to freeze up.

We were supposed to have sunny weather today, but that didn’t happen.  However, I’d already set Dallas to the task of caring for his lawnmower trailer with linseed oil and mineral spirits on Monday early afternoon.  After two days of curing, today would have been the second coat.  He had parked it in the barn last night because of the possibility of rain; only a heavy mist, but inside it is dry.  Maybe he’ll get that second coat on tomorrow.

Had planned to pain the letters on the Powell Seed Farm sign, but too high humidity and too cool.  Ran out of time anyway.

Made some phone calls.  One to get the lawnmower picked up for annual maintenance, another to Bill to schedule changing out June’s garbage disposal, amongst others. Received a phone call from the fellow in south Missouri from whom I’m buying hay and he has it all delivered, so will pay him tomorrow.

Well, that’s about it along with preparing beef fillets and stir fry for lunch, three loads of laundry, making up another batch of laundry soap, and washing dishes.  I had more on the to-do list, but tomorrow’s another opportunity.

CHeers!

tauna

Sale Day or “What’s Wrong with my Shirt?”

During the course of the year, we sell our calves as they reach a weight that is valuable in the marketplace – this may mean we’ll have 3 or 4 days which we sell groups of calves.  Monday was such a day with 200 head going to market at North Missouri Livestock Auction in Milan, MO.  (also find them on facebook)

Calves resting in the shade. These will be sold on Monday.
Calves resting in the shade. These will be sold on Monday.  Description:  200 Hd mixed Steers and Heifers, Red, RWF, Black, BWF 500-650 lbs, 2 Rd Shots of IBR-BVD-PI3 & 7-way. Steers cut with knife, Heifers Calfhood vaccinated. All work done by Brookfield Vet Clinic. Weaned and growing on grass. No grain, NO IMPLANTS

The calves had already been sorted, so Monday morning just meant gouping into trailer load lots.  The number in each lot varied by trailer size.

John brought the Ford up earlier and I pulled in here with the Dodge. Once the white pickup trailer was loaded, I took it on up to Milan.
John brought the Ford up earlier and I pulled in here with the Dodge and trailer that is almost identical to the one shown here. Once the white pickup trailer was loaded, I took it on up to Milan.

Our little stock trailers are 7ft by 24 ft, so we can haul about 25 head of the five weight calves.  I was the first one to load out for the trip to Milan and would return for a second load.  Roundtrip is about an hour and 15 minutes.

Now that my husband has sold some of his calves, he’s offered to buy me a new shirt.  WHAT!  Aint’ nuthin’ wrong with my shirt?! 😉

2015 summer work shirt. 100% cotton - Second hand price $1.00. Yup, i'll toss it at the end of the season.
2015 summer work shirt. 100% cotton – Second hand price $1.00. Yup, i’ll toss it at the end of the season.

CIDRs In, CIDRs Out, then AI

Big ranch outfits often do timed AI, but we’ve never done this, so quite the experiment for us.  There is a lot of time and cattle handling involved which translates, of course, to more labor costs.  Time will tell if all this is really worth it.  We have hired a professional AI technicial to insert the CIDRS and do the AI (artificial insemination).

18 August – Mustered the cows and replacements heifers for CIDR placement to begin at 7am along with a Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) vaccination.  Doug, the technician had a flat tire so was running about 30 minutes late.  Not a problem.  The cows sorted nicely and went through the chute with no problems.  We managed a pace of 67 cows per hour for a total of 3 1/2 hours from start of CIDR insertion to being finished.  Sorting of course, was started an hour earlier.  Weather was perfectly cloudy, cool, with rain starting after we finished!.

Allen was catching, Pat gave the shot, Doug AI'd with RIck preparing the straw and loading the AI gun. This was crucial in expediting the whole process.
Allen was catching, Pat gave the shot, Doug AI’d with RIck preparing the straw and loading the AI gun. This was crucial in expediting the whole process.  Dallas brought the cows quietly into the race.  I was sorting the cows from the calves (well, except for taking this photo!)

25 August – Mustered the cows and replacements heifers in again at 4:30 removal of the CIDRS in the cows which also received the lutalyse shot\.  Sorted off the replacement heifers and held in corral overnight.  A little warm starting here in the afternoon, but not too bad.  about 82F, but began to cool off quickly.  We were finished by 7:30p.

26 August – Removal of CIDRS in heifers at 7am. Also received a shot of lutalyse. Had a couple of calves to doctor, then let the whole mob down into the timber.

27 August – 6pm – went to muster the cows into the small lot by corral.  RIck had already unrolled 4 bales of good hay, but the cows had found their way out of the timber.  Took until 7:30 to get them in!  Note to self:  Leave the cows in the small lot with high quality hay rather than turning them out and having difficulty getting them back in.  My thoughts are that they are really tired of getting poked and prodded, so were quite reluctant to move back towards the corral and with all the hormones raging at this point, they are pretty distracted.

Doug Tenhouse, our AI technician is inserting the AI syring through the cervix and plunging the semen into the uterus.
Doug Tenhouse, our AI technician is inserting the AI syringe through the cervix and plunging the semen into the uterus.  This cow was being less than cooperative – normally, they stand up – there is no pain.

We finished about 12;30 pm and had AI’d 210 animals in five hours.  If I get 55% of the cows bred to Red Eddard, that’d be industry standard.  As expensive as this whole process is, I hope for better – only time will tell. The cows have all been inseminated with Red Eddard, a red Aberdeen Angus that was collected at Cogent and has been sold by Dunlouise Angus to another farmer.

AI 006
Four straws of Red Eddard were left over since there were a few cows that, for various reason, didn’t warrant the investment of being inseminated with expensive semen. These were put in Pat’s semen tank where we found we also had leftover Black Angus and Charolais semen from when we used to AI some 20 years ago. Maybe we’ll get it all used next year.

28 August – morning start at 7am with the cows; the heifers were held until last so that the timing is right for best chance of successful AI and conception for each group.  Cows should be AI’d 60-66 hours after CIDR removal and heifers about 54-60 hours.  Both receiving a second Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) shot.  A bit late getting started.  Cows were, not surprisingly, reluctant to go into the corral, but at last they made it.  We started about 7:30 am again.  Everything went very well today, however, and we finished about 12:30pm.

Potential recip (recipient) cows. If all goes as hoped, 10 of these will become proud surrogate mommas of native Aberdeen Angus calves.
Potential recip (recipient) cows. If all goes as hoped, 10 of these will become proud surrogate mommas of native Aberdeen Angus calves.

I made my final selection of cows to use for embryo transplant work

and only ended up with 17 for 10 embryos.  Hopefully, enough cows will be in standing heat this coming week and none fall out for other reasons, so that each of 10 embryos will have a new home inside a momma’s womb.  AND remain viable.

ET cows were hauled home and now I spend time each day, all day checking for standing heat and writing down the time and the cow’s ear tag number.  All cows will be hauled to Trans-Ova in Chillicothe, MO on the 4th of September for ET.  HOPE, HOPE, HOPE i get some live calves out of those embryos.  It’s SO expensive.

Dallas and I dewormed the sheep in the late afternoon – had just done it 20 days ago, but sheep were dying!  I found out that the previous owner of these sheep had already put his own flock on an 18 day deworming schedule.  Add this to the growing list of reasons why i’m selling off the sheep – more work, more expense, more loss.

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

Red Eddard - a native born Scottish Aberdeen Angus bred by Dunlouise Angus, Kingston Farms, Forfar, Angus County, Scotland
Red Eddard – a native born Scottish Aberdeen Angus bred by Dunlouise Angus, Kingston Farms, Forfar, Angus County, Scotland