It has been seventeen days since our last measurable rain fall in Owen County. This morning we are getting very light showers but I’m afraid it is not going to amount to enough. Things have certainly been dry lately and I hope it is a pattern that we soon break.
The dry weather has allowed us to get our first cutting of hay up and in the barn. We baled 97 bales on about 30 acres. This mixed hay consisted of fescue, orchard grass, red clover, and alfalfa. The fact that the grass grew slowly this spring helped keep the hay from becoming overripe. As of cutting, the orchard grass seed heads were still doughy, and only about 20% of the alfalfa had made a bloom. This hay will be stored inside at the shop and the heifer calving facility. This will feed our replacement heifers and the 1st and 2nd calf heifers next winter. (Image 1)
Late May was also spent running cattle through the chute. We synchronized both the cows and the replacement heifers to be breed with timed AI. Each group had to go through the chute four times to complete the protocol. Once to get their pre breeding vaccinations, once to put the CIDR’s in, once to pull the CIDR’s out, and one final trip on breeding day. (Image 2)
David McGlothlin, with Genetics Plus, bred 79 head of the cows on the last Friday in May. We used the same bulls we used last year because we are very happy with the calves so far. We used Angus bull Plus One, and Hereford bull Kingdom. (Image 3)
Dr. Les Anderson bred 40 head of replacement heifers the week before the cows were bred. These heifers were also synchronized and time AI’ed. They were bred to Hereford bull Small Town Kid and Angus bull Counselor. These heifers will be re-synchronized and any that did not stick on the first round will be AI bred again. After two rounds of AI we will not turn a cleanup bull in with the heifers. Any heifer that does not breed on the first two heat cycles is not going to stay in our tight calving window and will be marketed as a cull.
There continues to be lots of activity with the road construction going on. Cartinhour Fencing has been at the farm moving and rebuilding our road fence along the new highway right of way.
I would like to thank David Cartinhour (Cartinhour Fencing), David McGlothlin (Genetics Plus), and Les Anderson (UK Beef Extension) for their professional services to Eden Shale this past month. Without them this work would not be possible.
The growing cycle of the grass this year has been different than normal. I’m not sure if it even went dormant for more than a couple of weeks. The warmer than normal weather in February caused it to turn green but the cold nights kept it in check. March had much warmer than normal temps and the grass kept growing, although slowly. By the first of April I was optimistic that we could turn out cows a couple of weeks early. Unfortunately again, cool nights and drier than normal conditions seemed to stop the grass growth all together. As of writing in early May, the grass still seems to be waiting for more moisture before it really reaches it full growing potential.
Despite these conditions we were able to turn the herd out on grass on April 25th. This is a week or so early for our region of the state. This year Greg will have four different groups of cattle to move through the rotational grazing schedule of pastures. The mature cows will be sorted into two different groups, each with cleanup bulls. The yearling steers will be managed and rotated to avoid any interference with the mature cows, and the replacement heifers will spend the summer in the paddocks as part of the USDA grazing trial. In all, we will have about 270 head to graze for the season.
The latter part of April we were able to get our fertilizer spread on our hay ground and our winter feeding pastures. These pastures see animals at some point during the winter and therefore are grazed down pretty tight. They need a shot of fertilizer to get them to catch up with the other pastures once grass starts growing. In all, we spread 218 lbs of urea/acre on a total of approximately 150 acres.
Just to keep things interesting, the state highway department has decided to widen and improve Highway 22 along the northern border of the farm. This project will take out quite a bit of fence and change our access to some portions of the farm. They are set to do the demolition the middle of May and Greg will have to manage the rotational grazing around the construction and the lack of fence for the immediate future.
Much like the wind, this springs field day season has been strong at the farm. Since January 1st we have hosted 16 tours for a total of 198 people. These people have been from numerous counties in Kentucky, as well as from Indiana, North Carolina, Oregon, and one group of 15 people from China. The graphic shows our visitors at the farm since 2013 with the areas shaded in green representing the counties, states, and countries that have had someone visit Eden Shale Farm. If you haven’t been to the farm and you would like to checkout what we are doing, make sure you visit www.edenshalefarm.com.