Baby calves

Cattle Tales

March 15 is usually the date I plan on stop feeding hay, but this year it has come and gone and the feeding chores continue. The weather this year seems to be colder than usual and the grass growth is slow. Is it really spring? We moved the cows to a new field about a week ago, and they are able to get some grazing, but we have continued to feed, although it is about half as much hay as before. I know that with a few warmer days, such as 55 during the day, the grass will just take off.

I do feel sorry for the little calves. Being born on a cold day, with the wind and rain is bad enough on me, to say nothing what it is like for them. But they seem to be doing just fine, the cows are doing a good job of mothering, and all is well. We have about half of the cows that have calved, with no problems with calving difficulty. I try to select our breeding bulls that will produce lighter calves. This reduces the chances that the cows will have trouble calving. But nothing in nature is guaranteed, we just have to watch the cows, and try to spot any potential problems early, and if necessary to give assistance.

Once the calves are born, I give them an ear tag with their mother’s number in the ear. This way I can monitor which cows are producing the best calves, and then make decisions about which cows we keep, and which cows need to be sold. We also castrate the bull calves by banding. This is the most humane, and I feel the best way to take care of this. Also, with early castration, these calves will not get such a large frame, and will actually work better for our grass fed program. And it is much easier to handle a 70 pound little calf, than a 300 pound 4 month old bundle of energy. So believe it or not, this works out best for the people and the calves.

All the other cattle are doing great. We weighed the cattle that will be butchered this spring, and I am very happy with their weight, just where I want it to be. With some good pastures this spring, we will have some nicely finished cattle. Let me know if you are interested in ordering some beef and I can get an order form to you.
March 24, 2009

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