Tag Archives: vaccinations

Sell Now or Sell Later

There has always been great debate about whether or not to sell open (not pregnant) cows in the fall at pregnancy check or turn the bull back in with them and see if they’ll breed for another season, then sell them pregnant.  Many trade publications will encourage producers to ‘add value’ to a cull cow, but i seriously question the validity of such endeavor, but then again, i’m not an expert with numbers, i’m just lazy and don’t want to be shifting and handling and sorting my cows more than necessary.

It’s easy enough to simply put numbers to the various practices, then make your favourite decision.

My first stumbling block with the concept of adding value to one of my cull cows has to do with passing off a potentially problem cow to my neighbor.  That doesn’t sound very neighborly or make good business since.  However, one could simply ‘add value’ by pouring the feed to the cow to make her fat and increasing the grade or value for slaughter.  It also could be justified by the fact that my management is super low input and most of my cows would thrive in another producer’s management style.

Let’s compare:

Pregnancy check in the fall reveals 10 open cows.  My cows all have a calf at side or they’d already be sold, so 14-30 days after the calves have received their vaccines, I’ll wean the calf by selling off the cow to slaughter.  She’s not going to be in the fattest condition because she’s nursing a nice calf and a non-fat cow will not bring top dollar.

For example, the different cow classes are as follows:


  1. Breaking and Boning (75-85% lean) $47.50-$57.50
  2. High dressing $58.00-$67.00.
  3. Lean (85-90%) $44.00-$54.50

Cows in the fall nursing a calf will typically fall in the Lean or Breaking and Boning categories and this year are bringing about $43/cwt (hundredweight).  My cows are primarily Corriente or Corriente cross and will weigh about 800 lbs (by comparison and Angus or other beefier breed will weigh 1200 lbs, although she still may be thin and be in the same category).



Keep the cow and turn the bull back with her and hope she gets bred – Let’s say there is 70% chance that she will.  So, we keep the cow until she is in the 2nd stage of pregnancy or about 5-6 months along.

Therefore, if she would bring $875/head as a P2 cow (and this would be a stretch if she is older than 5 or 6).


Leave the bulls in with the cows an additional 20-30 days and hope that another 50% of the potentially open cows actually breed, then sell the bred cows that calved late as well as the open cows in mid-December.

Let’s compare:

10 $105 -$1,050 labor
10 $127 -$1,270 pasture costs
7 $875 $6,125 bred cows sold
3 $400 $1,200 open cows sold
$5,005  keep and sell in June
5 $360 $1,800 open cows sold
5 $675 $3,375 bred cows sold
$5,175  sell in December

Things to consider.Interestingly, in my opinion, these numbers probably won’t change even if one leaves the bulls in for another 20 days, sort out the cows that have not calved by 10 June and selling them as ready to calve in the last trimester (P3).  In this part of the country (Missouri, USA) a summer calving P3 cow is not as desirable as a fall calving P2 even though i’ve credited her with more value in my chart above.

Leaving the bulls in an additional 20 days is advantage for me in that i avoid having to handle the cattle during ragweed allergy season.  My allergies are so bad, that this is a serious consideration.  However, the reality of bringing in the cows with baby calves and sorting off the one which haven’t calved yet is that it likely won’t happen and one would be right back to a 65 day calving season.  However, those cow numbers could be written down, paired up in the fall and then sold as pairs when animals are mustered in for preg check and calf vaccinations.

The point of changing the time and reducing the length of breeding season was to avoid ragweed allergy season.  However, i discovered that at least this year, i was unable to withstand the debilitating effects of ragweed as late as 1 September.   Also, the longer the calving season, the more inconvenient it is to shift the animals through a managed rotation.

Other alternative is to separate those open cows and a bull put in with them.  Disadvantage is that a separate herd must be maintained for 7 months.  Not really a feasible situation.

So, now that i’ve thought through the pros and cons of the various scenarios, especially solving the issue with allergies i will plan to leave the bulls in an additional 20 days, thereby hauling them out about 20 September.  This means, however, that the following spring that i’ll be dealing with an additional 20 days of baby calves to shift (yes, this is a pain in the butt) and be diligent to write down the numbers of those cows calving late so they can be sorted off during preg check in November.    If half of those late calvers go ahead and get bred, it will add dollars to my bottom line without adding much expense.  Most importantly, it solves the allergy issue.

WOTB – (working on the business)





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!


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

Working Day at Last

Tuesday started early with rising before dawn.  The vet was coming about 8:30am, so we needed to have the cows and calves mustered and sorted before then.  We were running a bit late, but thankfully, so was the vet, so that all worked out.  We got started with the first calf through the chute about 9:30 am and finished about 2:30pm, with less than half an hour for pizza from PB5 that Allen and his dad brought up for us all.

All the cows and calves moving into the corral.
All the cows and calves moving into the corral.

When i say that the calves were worked, this means they are receiving their vaccinations:  IBR-BVD-PI3, BRSV and 7-way blackleg, the heifers are calf-hooded (OCV vaccine).  All are dehorned if necessary, except for the roping calves and bull calves are castrated.  I also give them an ID ear tag.  It’s quite a deal for the calves, but we use Bud Williams’ low stress handling and this keeps any stress to a very minimum.  All the animals stay very quiet, which certainly cuts down on accidents.  I believe the only injury was Dallas getting kicked by a baby calf.  Still hurts, though. Their tiny hooves can be sharp enough to cut.

Chowing down!
Chowing down!

After the vet and his helper from Brookfield Veterinarian Clinic,left, we tagged a few cows which had lost ear tags.  All in all, it was a very low key, quiet event.  Very thankful.

Cows and calves quietly shifting to their overnight paddock.  They have plenty of hay on offer since the grass is just not growing yet!
Cows and calves quietly shifting to their overnight paddock. They have plenty of hay on offer since the grass is just not growing yet!

We arrived home by 5:30 after checking the stock and moving equipment home, after which I had those lambs to feed – boy were they hungry!.  Then it was off to put the testicles (Rocky Mountain oysters) in John’s frig, then up to Purdin to pick up milk.

One more lamb feeding just before dark and put them to bed.  Shower and bed!

All the Best!