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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weaned Calves Update

I was talking to one of my friends in Minnesota the other day and she asked how the calves were doing that we had to wean early due to the drought.  I guess I left everyone hanging on their progress after this post.

This year we did 2 types of weaning depending on where the calves were and who their moms were.  The calves that were in pastures that did not have good fences were brought to the headquarters and weaned in the lot.  The calves of the older cows were also brought home.  We have found when we take their calves away a 5 strand barbed wire fence means nothing to them if they want to get to their calf.

These calves are eating grain on the ground just 20 feet from their mothers on the other side of the fence.  The drought has made all the calves want to try something new to eat.

The last few years we have been trying to do a larger amount of Fence Line Weaning.
  • You must have a very, very good fence.  At least our cows didn't want to stay on the other side of the fence from their calves when we tried to do it in a pasture less than perfect fencing.
  • It allows the calves to stay in the same pasture, they know where the water is and where the good grass is located.
  • It allows them to stay in contact with their moms.  In fact, we caught several still nursing through the fence.
  • It is kind of like sending your kids to Kindergarten at a local school instead of sending them to a boarding school.
Everyone got a second round of vaccinations recently to help keep them protected from diseases.  The grass is getting shorter and the ponds are getting lower, so we are trying to keep them gaining weight as efficiently as we can so we implanted the steer calves with growth implants.

We sorted the steers and heifers.  We will keep them separated from here on out. The Farmer tries to bring one sex or the other to me and if I am lucky he will tell me which way to swing the gate before the calves get to me.  It was my job to swing the gate accordingly.  I have a video I shot with my phone, but I am having technical difficulties tonight.  Maybe tomorrow I will get it fixed and uploaded.

These calves decided the feed truck was their friend and followed it anywhere it went in the pasture.

The early weaned calves that I talked in about in the above post have done fabulous.  None of them got sick which is what we always worry about.  The lots were super dusty and we were concerned that some of them might develop dust pneumonia.  They were looking for something to eat other than dry grass and took right to eating grain and prairie hay.  Their mom's look wonderful and have gained back a little weight that they lost while nursing.

My boys got the meet the Peterson Farm Brothers at the Kansas State Fair.  Here they are with their shirts they bought.

We have received a couple of nice rains recently, so the cool season grass (fescue) is starting to green up and at least our moods are improving with the moisture and cooler temperatures.  The ponds still look really sad and we have been working to put in water tank below a couple of ponds so the cows don't have to wade into the mud to get to water.

The fall calving herd has started calving.  Follow me on Facebook to see the calves as they arrive.  Baby calf pictures always put me in a better mood.
-A Kansas Farm Mom