Earlier this week, I was busy in the barn at one of our farms despite the humidity and rain. We were working cattle and pulling bulls from the cow herds.
The calves were receiving their first round of vaccinations (2 shots - one to protect against 7 different Clostridiums and Pinkeye, another for Respiratory diseases), new ear tags with insecticide to deter flies and ticks, and the males were castrated if not already done at birth and received a Ralgro implant. (Be sure to click the links for more information about why these products are given.)
The cows and calves had their weight recorded. Many of the calves are already getting close to 600 lbs. After we were finished, everyone was turned out to the pasture; less than an hour in the pens for each herd of cows.
The bulls have been out with the cows for the past 60 days, but breeding season has come to an end, and they are headed to their pastures separate from the cows. A short breeding season is utilized as a useful management tool.
- Calves are born in a short window, allowing us to dedicate time to watching over cows during calving.
- Cows are more uniform in their nutrient requirements which change with stage of pregnancy and length of lactation.
- Spring calving works for herds in Tennessee because our peak in forage production coincides with peak in cow nutrient requirements, allowing us to use pasture to supply all of our cow's diet during this most important time.
- Calves are more uniform at weaning, making it easier to market and feed them after weaning.
- Less fertile cows are identified and culled from the herd when not breeding during this 60-day window, allowing us to build a herd with selection for better genetics for efficiency and production.
A few years ago, I recorded a few short videos while pulling bulls from the pastures and discussed what was happening.
Similar tasks will be taking place at our other farms this month and in 3 weeks I will return and the calves will get a booster vaccination. Even a sloppy day in the barn on a rainy day is better than most days in the office.