Our cow herd consists of 350 mother cows that are black and black baldy. Due to the pasture sizes we have them split into six or seven groups during the summer. Some of the larger groups we can rotate as some pastures border each other. If we can rotate the cows, we give the cow/calf pair nine acres each and ten if we cannot rotate. When moving cows we either use horses or 4-wheelers, leading them with hay or “cake”. Summer grazing starts around May 1st and ends in October.
We start calving March 1st and usually are done by the end of April. The cows are split in two groups and we calve out on available stocks, which is always different from the year before so it eliminates scour problems. Our first calf heifers are always close to the house though as they need checked through the night. At birth we give a shot to prevent any intertoximea, band the bull calves, and give them a tag the same number as their mother. The cow tag has our name across the bottom of the tag and the first digits are the year she was born (ex. 1051 cow would have been born in 2010). Before going to grass we work the calves again, giving them a brand and a shot to prevent rhinotracheitis and respiratory virus’s. The cows are also given a shot to prevent reproductive diseases and given a pour on which eliminates internal and external parasites.
With winter grazing we utilize a lot of our corn stalks. We use electric fence and split our herd again according to the water source. The cows eat the corn that fell on the ground prior or during harvest and the leaves. The leaves usually blow away by spring anyway and any corn eaten cuts down on volunteer growing the next summer. We only graze the stalks down to about 50% residue remaining so there is still plenty for our no till program (check out more on quick links). During the last trimester we supplement alfalfa hay or protein tubs to provide extra protein and vitamin A and continue this through calving time.
Our heifer replacement program starts in the feedlot from weaning. All of our heifers we want to keep either raised or purchased,are pelvic measured and Bangs vaccinated in January. Then a month before breeding we begin to synchronize them with a feed additive followed with an injection to get all the heat cycles the same. At the scheduled time we artificially breed them and turn the bulls in for 30 days. After another 45 days go by we then ultrasound them for pregnancy. The heifers not bred are then placed on feed, normally fitting into the later calves already at the feedlot.
All the cows are evaluated and culled for reasons of disposition, health, udder issues, or not with calf. Disposition has moderately high heritability. Roughly 40 percent of an animal’s craziness is explained by its genetics. This heritability estimate means that one can make fairly rapid progress toward a more docile herd through selection and culling. The heifers entered into the program are to replace these cows, keeping the numbers up. Our bulls are purchased from Registered Angus programs, usually in the top 1/3 of the breed.